On the role of ascending catecholaminergic systems in intravenous self-administration of cocaine

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1977 Jun;6(6):615-20. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(77)90084-3.


The role of ascending noradrenergic (NA) and dopaminergic (DA) systems in intravenous self-administration of cocaine in rats was investigated by examining the effects of 6-hydroxydopamine-induced lesions of these systems on responding for the drug on a FR-1 schedule of reinforcement. Lesions of the dorsal and ventral NA bundles that reduced hippocampal-cortical NA by 96% and hypothalamic NA by 72% failed to have any effects on responding for cocaine. Lesions of the nucleus accumbens that reduced the DA content of this nucleus by 90% resulted in a significant and long-lasting (15 days) reduction in self-administration of cocaine. Apomorphine self-administration was not affected in the same animals. Identical lesions of the n accumbens had only transient (2-3 days) effects on food-reinforced operant responding, suggesting that the prolonged disruption of cocaine self-administration was not the result of motor deficits. The results are discussed with reference to the possibility that DA terminals in the n accumbens may mediate some of the positive reinforcing properties of cocaine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Catecholamines / physiology*
  • Cocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Hydroxydopamines / toxicity
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / physiology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology
  • Oxidopamine
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / physiology
  • Receptors, Dopamine / physiology
  • Self Administration*


  • Catecholamines
  • Hydroxydopamines
  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Oxidopamine
  • Cocaine
  • Norepinephrine