Reward shifts and motor responses following microinjections of opiate-specific agonists into either the core or shell of the nucleus accumbens

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1995 Jul;120(2):195-202. doi: 10.1007/BF02246193.


Differences in pharmacology, anatomical connections, and receptor densities between the "core" and "shell" of the nucleus accumbens suggest that behavioral activity normally modulated by the accumbens, such as reward and motor functions, may be differentially regulated across the mediolateral axis. This study investigated the effects of opiate receptor-specific agonists on reward and motor functions in either the accumbens core or shell, using the intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) rate-frequency curve-shift method. Microinjections of the mu opiate receptor-specific agonist, DAMGO (vehicle, 0.03 nmol, and 0.3 nmol), or the delta opiate receptor-specific agonist DPDPE (vehicle, 0.3 nmol, 3.0 nmol), were administered bilaterally in a random dose order with a minimum of 3 days between injections. Rats were tested over three consecutive 20-min rate-frequency curves immediately following a microinjection to investigate the time course of drug effects. Both opiate agonists decreased the ICSS frequency necessary to maintain half-maximal response rates when injected into the medial and ventral shell region of the accumbens. However, DAMGO microinjections into the lateral accumbens core or the control site of the caudate increased the frequency necessary to elicit half-maximal response rates, while DPDPE microinjections into these regions had no effect. Evaluation of motor effects show that administration of DAMGO resulted in a suppression of activity in all locations. In contrast, DPDPE microinjections resulted in little or no effect on lever pressing activity at any location.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)-
  • Enkephalin, D-Penicillamine (2,5)-
  • Enkephalins / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Microinjections
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta / agonists
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / agonists
  • Time Factors


  • Analgesics
  • Enkephalins
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)-
  • Enkephalin, D-Penicillamine (2,5)-