The subthalamic nucleus exerts opposite control on cocaine and 'natural' rewards

Nat Neurosci. 2005 Apr;8(4):484-9. doi: 10.1038/nn1429. Epub 2005 Mar 27.


A challenge in treating drug addicts is preventing their pathological motivation for the drug without impairing their general affective state toward natural reinforcers. Here we have shown that discrete lesions of the subthalamic nucleus greatly decreased the motivation of rats for cocaine while increasing it for food reward. The subthalamic nucleus, a key structure controlling basal ganglia outputs, is therefore able to oppositely modulate the effect of 'natural' rewards and drugs of abuse on behavior. Modulating the activity of the subthalamic nucleus might prove to be a new target for the treatment of cocaine addiction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / drug effects*
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Eating / physiology
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Muscimol / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Reward*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / drug effects*
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology
  • Time Factors


  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • GABA Agonists
  • Muscimol
  • Cocaine