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Neuropharmacology. 2010 Nov;59(6):452-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2010.06.008. Epub 2010 Jun 22.

Electrical stimulation of the lateral habenula produces enduring inhibitory effect on cocaine seeking behavior.

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Leslie Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel.


The lateral habenula (LHb) is critical for modulation of negative reinforcement, punishment and aversive responses. In light of the success of deep-brain-stimulation (DBS) in the treatment of neurological disorders, we explored the use of LHb DBS as a method of intervention in cocaine self-administration, extinction, and reinstatement in rats. An electrode was implanted into the LHb and rats were trained to self-administer cocaine (21 days; 0.25-1 mg/kg) until they achieved at least three days of stable performance (as measured by daily recordings of active lever presses in self-administration cages). Thereafter, rats received DBS in the presence or absence of cocaine. DBS reduced cocaine seeking behavior during both self-administration and extinction training. DBS also attenuated the rats' lever presses following cocaine reinstatement (5-20 mg/kg) in comparison to sham-operated rats. These results were also controlled by the assessment of physical performance as measured by water self-administration and an open field test, and by evaluation of depressive-like manifestations as measured by the swim and two-bottles-choice tests. In contrast, LHb lesioned rats demonstrated increased cocaine seeking behavior as demonstrated by a delayed extinction response. In the ventral tegmental area, cocaine self-administration elevated glutamatergic receptor subunits NR1 and GluR1 and scaffolding protein PSD95, but not GABA(A)β, protein levels. Following DBS treatment, levels of these subunits returned to control values. We postulate that the effect of both LHb modulation and LHb DBS on cocaine reinforcement may be via attenuation of the cocaine-induced increase in glutaminergic input to the VTA.

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