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Conditioned changes in dopamine oxidation currents in the nucleus accumbens of rats by stimuli paired with self-administration or yoked-administration of d-amphetamine


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


In vivo chronoamperometry was used to monitor changes in dopamine oxidation currents corresponding to dopamine efflux in the nucleus accumbens of rats after presentation of a conditioned light stimulus repeatedly paired with either yoked- or self-administered intravenous injections of the psychostimulant d-amphetamine. Daily conditioning trials began with a non-contingent drug injection, paired with a conditioned stimulus consisting of a 5 s flashing light and 30 s lights out, after which a house light was illuminated during the 3 h session, signalling drug availability. Each subsequent injection of d-amphetamine was paired with the conditioned stimulus. Electrochemical measures were taken on conditioning trials 4–7, and on each trial, intravenous

d-amphetamine (0.25 mg/kg per injection) self-administration produced a significant maximal increase in mean dopamine oxidation currents of ≈ 8 nA above baseline. Dopamine oxidation currents in rats receiving yoked

d-amphetamine were ≈ 5 nA above baseline by the fourth day of drug administration and reached ≈ 8 nA on the seventh and final day of drug administration. On day 9 the first presentation of the vehicle injection and conditioned stimulus, in combination with illumination of the house lights, induced an immediate increase in nucleus accumbens dopamine oxidation currents in all rats that had previously received d-amphetamine. Subsequent presentations of the conditioned stimulus at 30 min intervals induced further increases in extracellular dopamine oxidation currents in both drug-treated groups. By the end of the 3 h session, both groups had similar maximal conditioned increases in dopamine oxidation currents of ≈ 6 nA. These data are discussed with relation to the neurochemistry of drug craving.

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