Early consolidation of instrumental learning requires protein synthesis in the nucleus accumbens

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Dec;5(12):1327-31. doi: 10.1038/nn973.


It is widely held that long-term memories are established by consolidation of newly acquired information into stable neural representations, a process that requires protein synthesis and synaptic plasticity. Plasticity within the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a major component of the ventral striatum, is thought to mediate instrumental learning processes and many aspects of drug addiction. Here we show that the inhibition of protein synthesis within the NAc disrupts consolidation of an appetitive instrumental learning task (lever-pressing for food) in rats. Post-trial infusions of anisomycin immediately after the first several training sessions prevented consolidation, whereas infusions delayed by 2 or 4 hours had no effect. However, if the rats were allowed to learn the task, the behavior was not sensitive to disruption by intra-accumbens anisomycin. Control infusions into the medial NAc shell or the dorsolateral striatum did not impair learning; in fact, an enhancement was observed in the latter case. These results show that de novo protein synthesis within the NAc is necessary for the consolidation, but not reconsolidation, of appetitive instrumental memories.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisomycin / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neostriatum / drug effects
  • Neostriatum / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Anisomycin