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Brain Res Bull. 2010 Oct 30;83(5):245-54. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2010.06.012. Epub 2010 Jul 7.

REM sleep deprivation produces a motivational deficit for food reward that is reversed by intra-accumbens amphetamine in rats.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin-Madison, 53719, USA.


Prolonged sleep deprivation in rats produces a characteristic syndrome of increase in food intake accompanied by, paradoxically, decrease in weight, suggesting a potential alteration in motivation for food reward. Using the multiple platform method to produce REM sleep deprivation (REMSD), we investigated the effect of REMSD on motivation for food reinforcement with a progressive ratio operant task, which yields a measure of the motor effort that a hungry animal is willing to expend to obtain food (the point at which the animal quits responding is termed the "break-point"). We found that REMSD rats decreased the break point for sucrose pellet reinforcement in comparison to controls, as revealed by a within-session decline in responding. This behavioral deficit is similar to that observed in rats with diminished dopamine transmission within the nucleus accumbens (Acb), and, considering that stimulants are frequently used in the clinical setting to reverse the effects of sleepiness, we examined the effect of systemic or intra-Acb amphetamine on break point in REMSD rats. Animals were given either systemic or intra-Acb amphetamine injections on days 3 and 5 of REMSD. Systemic amphetamine (0.1, 0.5, or 2.5mg/kg) did not increase break point in REMSD rats. In contrast, intra-Acb infusions of amphetamine (1, 10, or 30μg/0.5μl bilaterally) reversed the REMSD-induced suppression of progressive ratio responding. Specifically, the two higher doses of intra-Acb amphetamine were able to prolong responding within the session (resulting in an increased break point) on day 3 of REMSD while only the highest dose was sufficient following 5 days of REMSD. These data suggest that decreased motivation for food reward caused by REMSD may result from a suppression of dopamine function in the Acb.

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