Ventral striatal anatomy of locomotor activity induced by cocaine, D-amphetamine, dopamine and D1/D2 agonists

Neuroscience. 2002;113(4):939-55. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(02)00247-6.


The ventral striatum appears to play a critical role in mediating motoric effects (i.e. ambulatory activity and rearing) of psychostimulants such as cocaine. We evaluated whether sub-regions of the ventral striatum play differential roles in locomotion and rearing induced by various dopaminergic drugs. Injections of D-amphetamine and dopamine stimulated locomotion and rearing with a similar potency at each of the sub-regions: the core, medial shell or medial tubercle. However, injections of mixtures of the D(1)- and D(2)-type agonists SKF 38393 and quinpirole or cocaine into the medial olfactory tubercle or the medial shell of the nucleus accumbens induced marked locomotion and rearing, while these injections into the core induced little or no locomotion or rearing. Furthermore, cocaine injections into the lateral or posterior tubercle produced marginal locomotion and rearing, while cocaine injections into regions just dorsal to these tubercle sites, the lateral portion of the shell or the ventral pallidum, did not produce any stimulating effect. We conclude that dopaminergic compounds induce vigorous locomotion and rearing in both core and shell; the relative roles of the core and shell differ depending on chemical compounds. Similar to the nucleus accumbens, the olfactory tubercle, particularly the medial portion, also mediates these behaviors induced by dopaminergic compounds. The medial ventral striatum (i.e. the medial tubercle and medial shell) plays a more important role in cocaine-induced locomotion and rearing than the lateral ventral striatum (i.e. the core, lateral shell and lateral tubercle). Moreover, the differential effects of cocaine between the medial and lateral portions of the shell on locomotion and rearing suggest more than two functional units (the core vs. the shell) within the accumbens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology
  • Basal Ganglia / drug effects*
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Dextroamphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / physiology
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Cocaine
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Dopamine