Interpretation of Lesion Effects on Stimulant Self-Administration
A number of studies have employed the lesion approach to understand the neural mechanisms which underlie drug self-administration behavior. In general, two strategies have been used. One method examines the effect of lesions on acquisition of the self-administration response. Changes in drug reward are inferred by comparing differences in the acquisition rates between lesioned and control animals. Alternately, some have used a within subject design and analyzed the effects of lesions on previously established self-administration behavior. To date, only simple schedules of reward (i.e., fixed ratio or continuous reinforcement) have been used in conjunction with the lesion technique. The difficulty in interpreting changes in drug intake or rate of acquisition is discussed with reference to stimulant self-administration data generated in several laboratories. The importance of characterizing the extent and specificity of the lesion and of choosing the most appropriate postlesion test period is also emphasized.
KeywordsDopamine Nicotine Morphine Cocaine Amphetamine
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