Separable roles of the nucleus accumbens core and shell in context-and cue-induced alcohol-seeking

Nadia Chaudhri, Lacey L. Sahuque, William W. Schairer, Patricia H. Janak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conditioned responding to drug-predictive discrete cues can be strongly modulated by drug-associated contexts. We tested the hypothesis that differential recruitment of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) core and shell mediates responding to drug cues in a drug vs non-drug context. Rats were trained to discriminate between two 10-s auditory stimuli: one stimulus (CS) was paired with ethanol (10% v/v; 0.2 ml; oral) whereas the other (CS) was not. Training occurred in operant conditioning chambers distinguished by contextual stimuli, and resulted in increased entries into the ethanol delivery port during the CS when compared with the CS. In experiment 1, port entries were then extinguished in a second context by withholding ethanol, after which context-induced renewal of ethanol-seeking was tested by presenting both stimuli without ethanol in the previous training context. This manipulation stimulated strong responding to the CS in rats pretreated with saline in the core (n9) or shell (n10), which was attenuated by pharmacologically inactivating (muscimol/baclofen; 0.1/1.0 mM; 0.3 l/side) either subregion pretest. In experiment 2, after discrimination, training rats were habituated to a different context in which ethanol and both stimuli were withheld. Cue-induced ethanol-seeking was then elicited by presenting the CS and CS without ethanol in the different context. Saline-pretreated rats responded more to the CS than the CS (core n8; shell n9), and inactivating the core but not shell attenuated this effect. These data highlight an important role for the core in cue-induced ethanol-seeking, and suggest that the shell is required to mediate the influence of contexts on conditioned ethanol-seeking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-791
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction
  • Cue reactivity
  • Ethanol
  • Reinstatement
  • Renewal
  • Striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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