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Neuroscience. 1995 Feb;64(3):587-97.

The role of mesoaccumbens--pallidal circuitry in novelty-induced behavioral activation.

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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-6520, USA.


When exposed to an environment for the first time, rats express greater behavioral activation than rats which were previously habituated to that environment. The circuit containing the ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum is required for the expression of locomotor activity elicited by amphetamine-like psychostimulants. It was hypothesized that this circuit is necessary for the expression of novelty-induced motor activity. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the projection from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens, while GABA is contained in the projections from the nucleus accumbens to the ventral pallidum and from the ventral pallidum back to the ventral tegmental area. Prior to exposing rats to a novel or habituated environment, they received a microinjection of either saline vehicle or one of the following drugs: fluphenazine (dopamine antagonist) into the nucleus accumbens, muscimol (GABAA agonist) into the ventral pallidum, or baclofen GABAB agonist) into the ventral tegmental area. Each of these pretreatments prevented novelty-induced motor activation without suppressing the activity of habituated animals. In contrast, when these microinjections were made into adjacent motor nuclei of the basal ganglia, including fluphenazine into the striatum, muscimol into the globus pallidus and baclofen into the substantia nigra, they were ineffective in blocking novelty-induced motor activity. These data indicate that the integrity of the circuit that contains the ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum is required for the manifestation of novelty-induced motor activity.

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