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Neuropharmacology. 2013 Apr;67:104-14. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.10.029. Epub 2012 Nov 16.

Supra-normal stimulation of dopamine D1 receptors in the prelimbic cortex blocks behavioral expression of both aversive and rewarding associative memories through a cyclic-AMP-dependent signaling pathway.

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Dept. of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Schulich School of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N5Y 5T8.


Dopamine (DA) receptor transmission through either D(1) or D(2)-like subtypes is involved critically in the processing of emotional information within the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). However the functional role of specific DA D(1)-like receptor transmission in the expression of emotionally salient associative memories (either aversive or rewarding) is not currently understood. Here we demonstrate that specific activation of DA D(1) receptors in the prelimbic (PLC) division of the mPFC causes a transient block in the behavioral expression of both aversive and rewarding associative memories. We report that intra-PLC microinfusions of a selective D(1) receptor agonist block the spontaneous expression of an associative olfactory fear memory, without altering the stability of the original memory trace. Furthermore, using an unbiased place conditioning procedure (CPP), intra-PLC D(1) receptor activation blocks the spontaneous expression of an associative morphine (5 mg/kg; i.p.) reward memory, while leaving morphine-primed memory expression intact. Interestingly, both intra-PLC D(1)-receptor mediated block of either fear-related or reward-related associative memories were dependent upon downstream cyclic-AMP (cAMP) signaling as both effects were rescued by co-administration of a cAMP signaling inhibitor. The blockade of both rewarding and aversive associative memories is mediated through a D(1)-specific signaling pathway, as neither forms of spontaneous memory expression were blocked by intra-PLC microinfusions of a D(2)-like receptor agonist. Our results demonstrate that the spontaneous expression of either rewarding or aversive emotionally salient memories shares a common, D(1)-receptor mediated substrate within the mPFC.

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