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Brain Res. 1996 May 25;722(1-2):109-17.

NMDA-induced lesions of the nucleus accumbens or the ventral pallidum increase the rewarding efficacy of food to deprived rats.

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Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The role of the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and ventral pallidum (VP) in food reward modulation was investigated using Heyman's [24] curve fitting approach in food deprived rats. All rats were maintained at 80% normal body weight, and trained to lever press for food reinforcement. Each rat was tested daily with a series of four variable-interval (VI) reinforcement schedules (80, 40, 20, and 10 s) designed to approximate an exponential distribution, and randomly administered in ascending or descending order. The maximum response rate (Rmax) and the reinforcement rate required to maintain half-maximal responding (Re50) were recorded for each rat's daily test session. Following the establishment of baseline responding, the excitotoxin N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) was bilaterally administered into the NAC (30 micrograms per side) or VP (20 micrograms per side) over a 10 min period. Both groups displayed substantial damage to the intended structure, with the lateral regions typically sustaining more damage than medial regions, and minor damage to surrounding areas. When tested at three weeks post-lesion, a suppression of motor activity was evident in all animals when compared to pre-lesion baseline. Moreover, in almost all rats, Re50 decreased, suggesting that the rewarding efficacy of food had increased. These data are surprising, given the extensive literature on the relationship between damage in the NAC and loss of reward efficacy. However, based on pharmacological and anatomical findings, both brain regions have been divided into several subregions. Behavioral studies suggest that these subregions may differentially regulate reward and motor functions. The results from the present study suggest that (1) both the NAC and VP are involved in the modulation of food reward, (2) that lateral subregions in each structure may function to dampen food reward efficacy, and (3) that medial subregions may enhance food reward.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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