We have previously obtained evidence that the mesoamygdaloid dopamine projection modulates the acquisition of a conditioned response (CR) elicited by presentation of a conditioned stimulus (CS) predicting the availability of a natural (sucrose) reward. This property was found to be dependent upon D3, but not D1 or D2, dopamine receptor activation. The aim of the present study was to determine whether the mesoamygdaloid dopamine projection is similarly involved in the acquisition of a drug-associated CR. Thus, two groups of rats with guide cannulae aimed at the nucleus accumbens and amygdala were trained using a Pavlovian conditioning procedure in which an initially neutral CS was paired with a computer-controlled, bilateral intraaccumbens infusion of d-amphetamine (the unconditioned stimulus: US). Conditioning sessions were conducted in standard operant chambers, with each session consisting of a single CS-US trial. For one group of rats, CS presentation was positively correlated with the drug US (Paired group), while for the second group CS and US presentations were negatively correlated (Unpaired group). During training, locomotor activity was recorded and was utilised as the measure both of the unconditioned (UR) and conditioned response (CR). A within-subjects design was utilised to investigate the effect of post-session bilateral intraamygdala administration of R(+) 7-OH-DPAT on the development of the drug-associated CR. Hence, both Paired and Unpaired groups were exposed to two different CSs which were presented on alternate sessions. Post-session bilateral intra-amygdala administration of R(+) 7-OH-DPAT (10 nmol) followed sessions in which one CS was presented, while intra-amygdala vehicle followed sessions in which the alternate CS was presented. The development of a CR occurred only in the presence of a CS that had been positively correlated with presentation of the drug US. Post-session, intra-amygdala administration of R(+) 7-OH-DPAT enhanced the acquisition of this CR. However, R(+) 7-OH-DPAT was without effect upon the unconditioned response to intra-accumbens d-amphetamine. Our previous data indicate a comparable effect of R(+) 7-OH-DPAT on conditioning to a CS associated with a non-drug, natural reward. Therefore, taken together, these findings suggest that D3 dopamine receptors within the amygdala modulate specifically the acquisition of Pavlovian conditioned responses, regardless of whether drug or natural rewards constitute the US.
- Amygdala/drug effects
- Conditioning, Classical/drug effects
- Dextroamphetamine/administration & dosage
- Dopamine Agonists/administration & dosage
- Nucleus Accumbens/drug effects
- Rats, Wistar
- Tetrahydronaphthalenes/administration & dosage