A subset of cingulate cortical neurones is specifically activated during alcohol-acquisition behaviour

Acta Physiol Scand. 2001 Jan;171(1):87-97. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-201X.2001.00787.x.


A new need is associated with the formation of behaviour directed at its satisfaction. In chronically ethanol-treated rabbits a bodily need develops to acquire and consume alcohol. The present study examined the firing properties of single neurones in the cingulate (limbic) cortex of chronically ethanol-treated rabbits. The main questions of this study were: are there neurones in the cingulate cortex which specifically increase their firing during alcohol-acquisition behaviour (AAB)? What is the relationship between the neuronal mechanisms of pre-existing and newly formed behaviour? Adult rabbits were taught to acquire food by pressing pedals. After 9 months of ethanol treatment, the same rabbits were taught to acquire ethanol (15% solution in a 0.5-mL capsule) by means of the same instrumental

Method: Activity of the 118 neurones was recorded from the cingulate cortex. The comparison of activity of each neurone in AAB and food-acquisition behaviour (FAB) enabled us to reveal that their subservings overleap substantially but not completely: 41% of 'common neurones' involved in the subserving of both FAB and AAB as well as 5% of 'alcohol-neurones' (alcohol-acquisition specific cells) were found. We think of the latter neurones as units that were specialized during the forming of alcohol-seeking behaviour. Thus, present experiments help us not only to answer the above questions but also to provide an additional insight into the nature of similarity between neuronal mechanisms of long-term memory and long-lived modifications resulting from repeated drug exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology*
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Euphoria / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / cytology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / drug effects
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rabbits