The relation between dopamine oxidation currents in the nucleus accumbens and conditioned increases in motor activity in rats following repeated administration of d-amphetamine or cocaine


Correspondence: Anthony G. Phillips, University of British Columbia, Department of Psychology, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.


Chronoamperometric recording techniques were used to monitor extracellular dopamine efflux in the nucleus accumbens associated with unconditioned and conditioned increases in motor activity in rats, following the intravenous administration of either d-amphetamine (0.63 mg/kg) or cocaine (3 mg/kg), or the presentation of a conditioned stimulus paired repeatedly with one of these psychostimulants. Each drug was administered daily for 7 days, either in the home cage or an environment in which a compound stimulus (light offset, odour) was presented. Rats in control groups received saline instead of drug in the distinctive test environment. On day 7 of training, significant increases in unconditioned motor activity were observed in the 30 min session following infusions of either d-amphetamine or cocaine. Associated dopamine oxidation currents in the nucleus accumbens increased immediately following administration of either drug and remained significantly elevated above baseline during the entire 30 min recording period. On the test day, presentation of the conditioned stimulus with vehicle infusions, in the distinct environment, was accompanied by an increase in dopamine oxidation currents and a conditioned increase in motor activity, only in the groups in which these stimuli had been paired with d-amphetamine or cocaine. Neither the magnitude or duration of the conditioned motor activity matched the corresponding change in extracellular dopamine efflux in the nucleus accumbens. Accordingly, it is argued that the increase in dopamine concentration serves as a neurochemical correlate of the unconditioned and conditioned stimuli. The change in motor activity constitutes the unconditioned and conditioned responses that are subserved by the neural systems activated by the initial rise in extracellullar dopamine.