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Brain Res. 1993 Nov 26;629(1):31-9.

Conditioned increases in mesolimbic dopamine overflow by stimuli associated with cocaine.

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Biological Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Stimuli associated with cocaine come to acquire incentive-motivational as well as secondary reinforcing properties which can energize and maintain behavior in laboratory animals as well as precipitate craving in addicts. Environmental stimuli paired with a large dose of cocaine for one training session elicited significant increases in locomotor activity and in extracellular dopamine in the nucleus accumbens of rats during a second test session with a low dose of cocaine. The increases in extracellular dopamine are not likely a secondary consequence of this increase in locomotor output of rats conditioned to cocaine, since doses of MK-801 which produced similar increases in locomotor behavior had no effect on mesolimbic dopamine. These findings provide a neurochemical mechanism for understanding the incentive motivational properties of stimuli associated with cocaine and may help to explain recidivism of cocaine addicts when they return to an environment in which the drug was used.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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