Nucleus accumbens neurons differentially encode information about aversive cues that predict cocaine availability and cocaine self-administration following extended taste-drug pairings Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Green, Jennifer Lynn
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Nucleus accumbens (NAc) neurons differentially respond to rewarding and aversive gustatory stimuli: rewarding tastants elicit mostly inhibitions while aversive stimuli elicit excitations. A switch from inhibitory to excitatory responses occurs when a natural reward, saccharin, predicts delayed cocaine availability [Wheeler et. al. 2008]. Changes in the behavioral response to tastants (termed taste reactivity) track this alteration in NAc activity. Here, we examined: 1) the dynamics of NAc activity and taste reactivity across 5 and 10 taste-drug pairings, and 2) if NAc cells that are responsive to the 'aversive' tastant are the same cells that process information about lever pressing for cocaine. Results showed that the switch from inhibitory to excitatory responses (and taste reactivity) occurred following 5 and 10 taste-drug pairings. Further, neurons responsive to tastant infusion were generally not the same cells that encode goal-directed behaviors for cocaine. Thus, distinct subsets of NAc neurons differentially encode cocaine versus natural rewards even when the natural reward predicts delayed cocaine availability.
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  • Carelli, Regina
  • Master of Arts
Graduation year
  • 2012

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