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Cereb Cortex. 2011 Dec;21(12):2665-80. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr031. Epub 2011 Apr 29.

Acquisition, extinction, and recall of opiate reward memory are signaled by dynamic neuronal activity patterns in the prefrontal cortex.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C1.


The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) comprises an important component in the neural circuitry underlying drug-related associative learning and memory processing. Neuronal activation within mPFC circuits is correlated with the recall of opiate-related drug-taking experiences in both humans and other animals. Using an unbiased associative place conditioning procedure, we recorded mPFC neuronal populations during the acquisition, recall, and extinction phases of morphine-related associative learning and memory. Our analyses revealed that mPFC neurons show increased activity both in terms of tonic and phasic activity patterns during the acquisition phase of opiate reward-related memory and demonstrate stimulus-locked associative activity changes in real time, during the recall of opiate reward memories. Interestingly, mPFC neuronal populations demonstrated divergent patterns of bursting activity during the acquisition versus recall phases of newly acquired opiate reward memory, versus the extinction of these memories, with strongly increased bursting during the recall of an extinction memory and no associative bursting during the recall of a newly acquired opiate reward memory. Our results demonstrate that neurons within the mPFC are involved in both the acquisition, recall, and extinction of opiate-related reward memories, showing unique patterns of tonic and phasic activity patterns during these separate components of the opiate-related reward learning and memory recall.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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