Amphetamine impairs the discriminative performance of rats with dorsal noradrenergic bundle lesions on a 5-choice serial reaction time task: new evidence for central dopaminergic-noradrenergic interactions

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1987;91(4):458-66. doi: 10.1007/BF00216011.


A series of experiments examined the effects of lesions of the dorsal noradrenergic bundle (DNAB), induced by 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), on the behavioural response to systemic and intra-accumbens amphetamine, using a rat analogue of Leonard's 5-choice serial reaction time task for humans. Although the 6-OHDA DNAB lesion produced a profound depletion of cortical noradrenaline (NA) (to around 5% of control levels) it did not impair any aspect of performance on this task. Both systemic and intra-accumbens amphetamine increased behavioural measures of impulsivity of responding, but neither impaired discriminative accuracy in the sham-operated control rats. However, the DNAB lesioned rats did show a discriminative impairment following both low doses of systemic amphetamine, and intra-accumbens amphetamine. The latter effect was antagonised by systemic administration of the specific dopaminergic (DA) antagonist alpha-flupenthixol. The DNAB lesion did not alter the effect of amphetamine on any other behavioural measure, including speed and impulsivity of responding. These results suggest that although DA and NA participate in qualitatively different behavioural processes, the effects of DNAB lesions on attentional processes depend on the level of DA activity within the nucleus accumbens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Discrimination Learning / drug effects
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Flupenthixol / pharmacology
  • Injections
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Nucleus Accumbens
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / drug effects*


  • Amphetamine
  • Flupenthixol
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine