Document Type




Format of Original

11 p.

Publication Date



Society for Neuroscience

Source Publication

Journal of Neuroscience

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4823-14.2015


Drug-associated cues have profound effects on an addict’s emotional state and drug-seeking behavior. Although this influence must involve the motivational neural system that initiates and encodes the drug-seeking act, surprisingly little is known about the nature of such physiological events and their motivational consequences. Three experiments investigated the effect of a cocaine-predictive stimulus on dopamine signaling, neuronal activity, and reinstatement of cocaine seeking. In all experiments, rats were divided into two groups (paired and unpaired), and trained to self-administer cocaine in the presence of a tone that signaled the immediate availability of the drug. For rats in the paired group, self-administration sessions were preceded by a taste cue that signaled delayed drug availability. Assessments of hedonic responses indicated that this delay cue became aversive during training. Both the self-administration behavior and the immediate cue were subsequently extinguished in the absence of cocaine. After extinction of self-administration behavior, the presentation of the aversive delay cue reinstated drug seeking. In vivo electrophysiology and voltammetry recordings in the nucleus accumbens measured the neural responses to both the delay and immediate drug cues after extinction. Interestingly, the presentation of the delay cue simultaneously decreased dopamine signaling and increased excitatory encoding of the immediate cue. Most importantly, the delay cue selectively enhanced the baseline activity of neurons that would later encode drug seeking. Together these observations reveal how cocaine cues can modulate not only affective state, but also the neurochemical and downstream neurophysiological environment of striatal circuits in a manner that promotes drug seeking.


Published version. Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 35, No. 18 (May 6, 2015): 7215-7225. DOI. © 2015 the authors. Used with permission.

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