Prefrontal-accumbens opioid plasticity: Implications for relapse and dependence

Matthew Hearing, Marquette University

Accepted version. Pharmacological Research, Vol. 139 (January 2019): 158-165. DOI. © 2019 Elsevier. Used with permission.


In addiction, an individual’s ability to inhibit drug seeking and drug taking is thought to reflect a pathological strengthening of drug-seeking behaviors or impairments in the capacity to control maladaptive behavior. These processes are not mutually exclusive and reflect drug-induced modifications within prefrontal cortical and nucleus accumbens circuits, however unlike psychostimulants such as cocaine, far less is known about the temporal, anatomical, and cellular dynamics of these changes. We discuss what is known regarding opioid-induced adaptations in intrinsic membrane physiology and pre-/postsynaptic neurotransmission in principle pyramidal and medium spiny neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens from electrophysiological studies and explore how circuit specific adaptations may contribute to unique facets of opioid addiction.