The effects of nucleus accumbens dopamine depletions on continuously reinforced operant responding: contrasts with the effects of extinction

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1995 Mar;50(3):437-43. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(94)00294-s.


Two experiments were undertaken to study the role of nucleus accumbens dopamine (DA) in instrumental lever pressing on a continuous reinforcement schedule (CRF). In the first experiment, the neurotoxic agent 6-hydroxydopamine was infused directly into the nucleus accumbens to investigate the effects of DA depletion on lever pressing performance. DA depletion had only a modest effect on the total number of lever presses, and there was a significant effect on total lever presses only on the first test day (third day postsurgery). Analyses also were performed on responding across the 45-min session by breaking down the session into three 15-min periods. During the test session on day 3 postsurgery, there was a significant group x time interaction, with DA-depleted rats showing a significant reduction in the numbers of responses in the first 15-min period, but no significant effects over the second or third 15-min period within the session. Although control rats showed a within-session decline in responding, the DA-depleted rats did not. In addition, analysis of interresponse times (IRTs) indicated that accumbens DA depletions produced a slowing of the local rate of responding as indicated by a significant decrease in high rate (i.e., short-duration IRT) responses and an increase in low rate (i.e., long-duration IRT) responses. In a second experiment, the effects of extinction on CRF performance were investigated. Unlike the effects of nucleus accumbens DA depletion, extinction produced lower levels of responding throughout the entire test session.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reinforcement Schedule*


  • Dopamine