Mesolimbic dopamine in desire and dread: Enabling motivation to be generated by localized glutamate disruptions in nucleus accumbens

Alexis Faure, Sheila M. Reynolds, Jocelyn M. Richard, Kent C. Berridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


An important issue in affective neuroscience concerns the role of mesocorticolimbic dopamine systems in positive-valenced motivation (e.g., reward) versus negative-valenced motivation (e.g., fear). Here, we assessed whether endogenous dopamine receptor stimulation in nucleus accumbens contributes to both appetitive behavior and fearful behavior that is generated in keyboard manner by local glutamate disruptions at different sites in medial shell. 6,7-Dinitroquinoxaline-2,3(1H,4H)-dione (DNQX) microinjections (450 ng) locally disrupt glutamate signals in <4 mm3 of nucleus accumbens, and generate either desire or fear (or both) depending on precise rostrocaudal location in medial shell. At rostral shell sites, local AMPA/kainate blockade generates positive ingestive behavior, but the elicited motivated behavior becomes incrementally more fearful as the same microinjection is moved caudally. A dopamine-blocking mixture of D1 and D2 antagonists (raclopride and SCH-23390 [R(+)-7-chloro-8-hydroxy-3-methyl-1-phenyl-2,3,4,5,-tetrahydro-1H-3- benzazepine hydrochloride]) was combined here in the same microinjection with DNQX to assess the role of endogenous local dopamine in mediating the DNQX-motivated behaviors. We report that local dopamine blockade prevented DNQX microinjections from generating appetitive behavior (eating) in rostral shell, and equally prevented DNQX from generating fearful behavior (defensive treading) in caudal shell. We conclude that local dopamine is needed to enable disruptions of corticolimbic glutamate signals in shell to generate either positive incentive salience or negative fearful salience (valence depending on site and other conditions). Thus, dopamine interacts with localization of valence-biased glutamate circuits in medial shell to facilitate keyboard stimulation of both appetitive and fearful motivations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7184-7192
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 9 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Appetitive behavior
  • Defensive behavior
  • Dopamine
  • Glutamate
  • Motivation
  • Nucleus accumbens


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