Food reward and cocaine increase extracellular dopamine in the nucleus accumbens as measured by microdialysis

Life Sci. 1988;42(18):1705-12. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(88)90036-7.


Dopamine was measured by microdialysis in the nucleus accumbens of freely moving rats while they experienced rewarding food, brain stimulation and drugs. Extracellular dopamine increased 37% when the animals pressed a lever for food reward. Electrical stimulation of a lateral hypothalamic feeding-reward (self-stimulation) site caused a similar increase in dopamine, with or without food. At the site in the nucleus accumbens where rats will administer amphetamine to themselves, injections of amphetamine or cocaine increased extracellular dopamine five-fold. Thus amphetamine and cocaine increase dopamine in a behavior reinforcement system which is normally activated by eating. Conversely, the release of dopamine by eating could be a factor in addiction to food.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Amphetamine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Dialysis
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Eating
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Food*
  • Homovanillic Acid / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Reward*
  • Septal Nuclei / metabolism*


  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine
  • Homovanillic Acid