Discrete quinolinic acid lesions of the rat prelimbic medial prefrontal cortex affect cocaine- and MK-801-, but not morphine- and amphetamine-induced reward and psychomotor activation as measured with the place preference conditioning paradigm

Behav Brain Res. 1998 Dec;97(1-2):115-27. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(98)00034-5.


As a part of the mesocorticolimbic system, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is thought to participate in the regulation of locomotor activity, motivation and reward. The mPFC consists of at least three different subareas. In previous lesion studies examining this region usually large parts of the mPFC were destroyed, with little discrimination between the different subareas. Therefore, this study was designed to selectively lesion the prelimbic area of the mPFC using a relatively low dose of quinolinic acid. In a conditioned place preference (CPP) experiment, lesioned and control animals were treated with cocaine (15 mg/kg), amphetamine (4 mg/kg), morphine (10 mg/kg) or MK-801 (0.3 mg/kg) to induce CPP. The lesion blocked the development of CPP only in animals receiving cocaine, but not in animals receiving amphetamine or morphine. MK-801 failed to produce a CPP in both lesioned and unlesioned animals. During the conditioning experiment, the acute locomotor response to the different drugs was also measured. Only the response (in terms of locomotion and rearing) to cocaine and MK-801 was reduced to a significant extent by the lesion, while the response to amphetamine and morphine was not affected. Also, the lesions did not cause any changes in the spontaneous activity of the animals when tested without drug. These results show that even small lesions of the prelimbic subarea of the mPFC are sufficient to produce behavioral effects. However, these are apparent only when the animals are challenged with cocaine or MK-801, but not with amphetamine or morphine, or when drug-free. This suggests that the mPFC might have a special role in mediating cocaine and MK-801 effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects*
  • Dizocilpine Maleate / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Quinolinic Acid / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reward


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Dizocilpine Maleate
  • Morphine
  • Amphetamine
  • Quinolinic Acid
  • Cocaine