Dopamine and preparatory behavior: II. A neurochemical analysis

Behav Neurosci. 1989 Feb;103(1):15-23. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.103.1.15.


Changes in the activity of dopamine-containing systems in relation to preparatory and consummatory feeding responses were investigated. In Experiment 1 rats were conditioned to associate food delivery with the presentation of a conditional stimulus (CS+). When sacrificed after exposure to the CS+ alone on a test trial, the ratio of the dopamine metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid to dopamine (DOPAC/DA ratio) was increased significantly in the nucleus accumbens. A similar trend in the ratio of homovanillic acid to dopamine (HVA/DA ratio) was also observed. Similar increases were observed in the striatum, but these were not statistically significant. In contrast, no increases were observed in the DOPAC/DA ratio or the HVA/DA ratio in either brain region when rats were permitted to consume an unsignaled meal for 7 min. These findings suggest that activation of dopamine terminals in the nucleus accumbens occurs during the anticipation of a meal, at which times the rat is engaged in preparatory feeding behaviors, but does not accompany the performance of short bouts of consummatory feeding behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Septal Nuclei / physiology*


  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Dopamine