Nucleus accumbens cell firing during maintenance, extinction, and reinstatement of cocaine self-administration behavior in rats

Brain Res. 2000 Jun 2;866(1-2):44-54. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(00)02217-4.


Electrophysiological recording procedures were used to examine nucleus accumbens (Acb) cell firing in rats (N=13) during cocaine self-administration sessions consisting of three phases. In phase one (maintenance), each lever press resulted in an intravenous cocaine infusion (0.33 mg, 6 s) paired with a tone-houselight stimulus (20 s). Of 144 Acb cells recorded during maintenance, 39 neurons (27%) exhibited phasic firing relative to the cocaine-reinforced response [4-8]. Briefly, Acb neurons showed increases in firing rate within seconds preceding the reinforced response and/or changes (increases or decreases) in activity within seconds following response completion. In phase two (extinction), saline was substituted for cocaine in the task. Results indicated that cells displaying exclusively anticipatory discharges during maintenance exhibited similar phasic activity during extinction. However, neurons that displayed post-response activity during the maintenance phase typically showed significant attenuation of phasic firing rates during extinction. After 30 min of no responding, animals were 'primed' with an intravenous infusion of cocaine, and self-administration was reestablished during phase three (reinstatement). Results showed that pre-response discharge patterns remained relatively intact while post-response cells typically exhibited a partial recovery of phasic activity. Similar findings were observed during other extinction experiments in which the stimulus only was removed (CS extinction). These findings support the notion that specific factors operating within the self-administration context differentially control pre- versus post-response discharge patterns of Acb neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects*
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nucleus Accumbens / cytology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Self Administration


  • Cocaine