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Behav Neurosci. 2010 Apr;124(2):179-91. doi: 10.1037/a0018932.

Differential effects on effort discounting induced by inactivations of the nucleus accumbens core or shell.

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Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T1Z4, Canada.


The authors investigated the contribution of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) core and shell to effort-based decision making using a discounting procedure. Selection of 1 lever delivered a smaller, 2-pellet reward immediately, whereas the other lever delivered a 4-pellet reward after a fixed ratio of presses (2, 5, 10, or 20) that increased over 4 blocks of 10 discrete choice trials. Subsequent testing employed an equivalent delays procedure, whereby the relative delay to reward delivery after selection of either option was equalized. In well-trained rats, inactivation of the core, but not the shell, via infusion of GABA A/B agonists muscimol/baclofen reduced preference for the high-effort option under standard conditions and also when rats were tested using an equivalent delays procedure. However, inactivation of the core did not alter preference for 4-pellet versus 2-pellet rewards when the relative costs of each option were the same (1 press). Thus, the NAc core, but not the shell, appears to be part of a neural circuit that biases choice toward larger rewards associated with a greater effort cost. Furthermore, the contributions by the NAc core to this form of decision making can be dissociated from its role in delay discounting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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