Emotional environments retune the valence of appetitive versus fearful functions in nucleus accumbens

Nat Neurosci. 2008 Apr;11(4):423-5. doi: 10.1038/nn2061. Epub 2008 Mar 16.


The nucleus accumbens mediates both appetitive motivation for rewards and fearful motivation toward threats, which are generated in part by glutamate-related circuits organized in a keyboard fashion. At rostral sites of the medial shell, localized glutamate disruptions typically generate intense appetitive behaviors in rats, but the disruption incrementally generates fearful behaviors as microinjection sites move more caudally. We found that exposure to stressful environments caused caudal fear-generating zones to expand rostrally, filling approximately 90% of the shell. Conversely, a preferred home environment caused fear-generating zones to shrink and appetitive-generating zones to expand caudally, filling approximately 90% of the shell. Thus, the emotional environments retuned the generation of motivation in corticolimbic circuits.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Choice Behavior
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Microinjections
  • Motivation*
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Nucleus Accumbens / anatomy & histology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • Quinoxalines / pharmacology
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Glutamate / drug effects
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism
  • Reward
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Quinoxalines
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • FG 9041