Dopamine overflow in the nucleus accumbens during extinction and reinstatement of cocaine self-administration behavior

Neuropsychopharmacology. 1996 Nov;15(5):506-14. doi: 10.1016/S0893-133X(96)00097-8.


Both cocaine and cocaine-associated stimuli can reinstate extinguished self-administration behavior in animals. It has been suggested that reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior may be mediated by enhanced dopamine (DA) neurotransmission. To examine this hypothesis, DA overflow was measured in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of rats during both extinction and cocaine-induced reinstatement of self-administration behavior. Rats were either allowed to self-administer cocaine for 3 hours daily for 14 days, or they received yoked administration of saline. A stimulus light above the lever was illuminated during drug delivery. Baseline DA overflow was measured in the NAc, using in vivo microdialysis 7 to 8 days after the last self-administration session. The rats were then placed into the operant chambers and allowed to respond in extinction for 90 minutes, during which responses resulted in presentation of the stimulus light. The rats then received a cocaine injection that reinstated self-administration behavior. Contrary to our hypothesis, cocaine-experienced animals exhibited less DA overflow in the NAc relative to controls during both extinction and reinstatement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Male
  • Microdialysis
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Self Administration


  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine