Fos protein expression and cocaine-seeking behavior in rats after exposure to a cocaine self-administration environment

Janet Neisewander, David A. Baker, Rita A. Fuchs, Ly T L Tran-Nguyen, Art Palmer, John F. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

370 Scopus citations


To examine neuronal activation associated with incentive motivation for cocaine, cocaine-seeking behavior (operant responding without cocaine reinforcement) and Fos expression were examined in rats exposed to saline and cocaine priming injections and/or a self-administration environment. Rats were first trained to self-administer cocaine or received yoked saline administration ('control'). They then received 21 daily exposures to either the self-administration environment ('extinction') or a different environment ('no extinction') without cocaine available. Extinction training, used to decrease incentive motivation for cocaine elicited by the self-administration environment, decreased cocaine-seeking behavior elicited by both the environment and the cocaine priming injection. Exposure to the self- administration environment enhanced Fos expression in the no extinction group relative to control and extinction groups in the anterior cingulate, basolateral amygdala, hippocampal CA1 region, dentate gyms, nucleus accumbens shell and core, and central gray area, regardless of whether or not priming injections were given. The priming injections enhanced Fos expression in the ventral tegmental area, caudate putamen, substantia nigra pars reticulata, entorhinal cortex, central amygdala, lateral amygdala, arcuate nucleus, and central gray area, regardless of group. Thus, these changes likely reflect an unconditioned effect from either cocaine or injection stress. The priming injections also enhanced Fos expression in the anterior cingulate, but only in cocaine-experienced groups, suggesting that this enhancement reflects an experience-dependent motivational effect of the priming injections. The results suggest that different neural circuits may be involved in the incentive motivational effects of cocaine-paired environmental stimuli versus priming injections and that the anterior cingulate may be part of a common pathway for both.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)798-805
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2000


  • Amygdala
  • Anterior cingulate
  • Basal ganglia
  • Cocaine
  • Cocaine conditioning
  • Cocaine- paired stimuli
  • Cocaine-seeking behavior
  • Fos protein expression
  • Immediate early genes
  • Incentive motivation
  • Limbic system
  • Neuronal activation
  • Priming injections
  • Reinstatement
  • Self- administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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