Dorsomedial prefrontal cortex contribution to behavioral and nucleus accumbens neuronal responses to incentive cues

J Neurosci. 2008 May 7;28(19):5088-98. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0253-08.2008.


Cue-elicited phasic changes in firing of nucleus accumbens (NAc) neurons can facilitate reward-seeking behavior. Here, we test the hypothesis that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), which sends a dense glutamatergic projection to the NAc core, contributes to NAc neuronal firing responses to reward-predictive cues. Rats trained to perform an operant response to a cue for sucrose were implanted with recording electrodes in the core of the NAc and microinjection cannulas in the dorsal mPFC (dmPFC). The cue-evoked firing of NAc neurons was reduced by bilateral injection of GABA(A) and GABA(B) agonists into the dmPFC concomitant with loss of behavioral responding to the cue. In addition, unilateral dmPFC inactivation reduced ipsilateral cue excitations and contralateral cue inhibitions. These findings indicate that cue-evoked excitations and inhibitions of NAc core neurons depend on dmPFC projections to the NAc and that these phasic changes contribute to the behavioral response to reward-predictive cues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cues*
  • Electrophysiology
  • GABA Agonists / administration & dosage
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists
  • GABA-B Receptor Agonists
  • Male
  • Microinjections
  • Motivation*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reward
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • GABA Agonists
  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists
  • GABA-B Receptor Agonists