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Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Dec;30(12):2387-400. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.07033.x. Epub 2009 Dec 10.

Electrophysiological evidence of mediolateral functional dichotomy in the rat accumbens during cocaine self-administration: tonic firing patterns.

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Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08854, USA.


Given the increasing research emphasis on putative accumbal functional compartmentation, we sought to determine whether neurons that demonstrate changes in tonic firing rate during cocaine self-administration are differentially distributed across subregions of the NAcc. Rats were implanted with jugular catheters and microwire arrays targeting NAcc subregions (core, dorsal shell, ventromedial shell, ventrolateral shell and rostral pole shell). Recordings were obtained after acquisition of stable cocaine self-administration (0.77 mg/kg/0.2mL infusion; fixed-ratio 1 schedule of reinforcement; 6-h daily sessions). During the self-administration phase of the experiment, neurons demonstrated either: (i) tonic suppression (or decrease); (ii) tonic activation (or increase); or (iii) no tonic change in firing rate with respect to rates of firing during pre- and post-drug phases. Consistent with earlier observations, tonic decrease was the predominant firing pattern observed. Differences in the prevalence of tonic increase firing were observed between the core and the dorsal shell and dorsal shell-core border regions, with the latter two areas exhibiting a virtual absence of tonic increases. Tonic suppression was exhibited to a greater extent by the dorsal shell-core border region relative to the core. These differences could reflect distinct subregional afferent processing and/or differential sensitivity of subpopulations of NAcc neurons to cocaine. Ventrolateral shell firing topographies resembled those of core neurons. Taken together, these observations are consistent with an emerging body of literature that differentiates the accumbens mediolaterally and further advances the likelihood that distinct functions are subserved by NAcc subregions in appetitive processing.

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