The effects of thalamic paraventricular nucleus lesions on cocaine-induced locomotor activity and sensitization

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1998 Jul;60(3):753-8. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(98)00051-3.


The brain circuitry that subserves the augmented locomotor response to repeated psychostimulant administration has been the subject of intense scrutiny. The dopaminergic innervation of the nucleus accumbens is critically involved in psychostimulant-elicited behavioral sensitization, and recent studies suggest that lesions of structures that send glutamatergic projections to the nucleus accumbens alter the acquisition or expression of psychostimulant-elicited sensitization. Although certain thalamic nuclei provide a major glutamatergic input to the striatum, the involvement of the thalamus in psychostimulant-elicited sensitization has not been investigated. We therefore examined the effects of lesions of the thalamic paraventricular nucleus, which projects to the shell of the nucleus accumbens, on cocaine-elicited locomotor sensitization. Lesions of the paraventricular nucleus did not alter basal locomotor activity, but significantly enhanced the acute locomotor response to cocaine. In contrast, repeated cocaine administration did not progressively augment locomotor activity in lesioned rats, but did so in sham-lesioned animals. The thalamic lesions also blocked the conditioned locomotor response to the environment in which the cocaine injections took place. These data suggest that the thalamic paraventricular nucleus may be an integral part of extended circuitry that subserves both the conditioned and nonconditioned components of psychostimulant-induced behavioral sensitization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Narcotics / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*


  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine