Paraventricular thalamus mediates context-induced reinstatement (renewal) of extinguished reward seeking

Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Feb;29(4):802-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06623.x. Epub 2009 Feb 5.


Paraventricular thalamus (PvTh) is uniquely placed to contribute to reinstatement of drug and reward seeking. It projects extensively to regions implicated in reinstatement including accumbens shell (AcbSh), prefrontal cortex (PFC) and basolateral amygdala (BLA), and receives afferents from other regions important for reinstatement such as lateral hypothalamus. We used complementary neuroanatomical and functional approaches to study the role of PvTh in context-induced reinstatement (renewal) of extinguished reward-seeking. Rats were trained to respond for a reward in context A, extinguished in context B and tested in context A or B. We applied the neuronal tracer cholera toxin B subunit (CTb) to AcbSh and examined retrograde-labelled neurons, c-Fos immunoreactivity (IR) and dual c-Fos/CTb labelled neurons in PvTh and other AcbSh afferents. In PvTh there was c-Fos IR in CTb-positive neurons associated with renewal showing activation of a PvTh-AcbSh pathway during renewal. In PFC there was little c-Fos IR in CTb-positive or negative neurons associated with renewal. In BLA, two distinct patterns of activation and retrograde labelling were observed. In rostral BLA there was significant c-Fos IR in CTb-negative neurons associated with renewal. In caudal BLA there was significant c-Fos IR in CTb-positive neurons associated with being tested in either the extinction (ABB) or training (ABA) context. We then studied the functional role of PvTh in renewal. Excitotoxic lesions of PvTh prevented renewal. These lesions had no effect on the acquisition of reward seeking. These results show that PvTh mediates context-induced reinstatement and that this renewal is associated with recruitment of a PvTh-AcbSh pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cholera Toxin
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Genes, fos
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Midline Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*
  • Midline Thalamic Nuclei / physiopathology
  • Motivation*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology
  • Photomicrography
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reward*


  • Cholera Toxin