Regional variation in phasic dopamine release during alcohol and sucrose self-administration in rats

Tatiana A. Shnitko, Donita L. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


While dopamine input to the dorsal striatum is well-known to be critical for action selection, including alcohol-motivated behaviors, it is unknown whether changes in phasic dopamine accompany these behaviors. Long-term alcohol abuse is believed to promote alterations in the neurocircuitry of reward learning in both ventral and dorsal striatum, potentially through increasing dopamine release. Using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, we measured phasic dopamine release in the dorsal and ventral striatum during alcoholic and nonalcoholic reward-seeking behavior and reward-related cues in rats trained on a variable-interval schedule of reinforcement. We observed robust phasic dopamine release in the dorsolateral striatum after reinforced lever presses and inconsistent dopamine release in the dorsomedial striatum. Contrary to our expectations, alcohol did not enhance dopamine release in rats drinking alcoholic rewards. Cue-induced dopamine release was also observed in the nucleus accumbens core of rats drinking the reward solutions. These data demonstrate that alcoholic and nonalcoholic reward self-administration on a variable-interval schedule of reinforcement in rats is accompanied by phasic dopamine release time-locked to reinforcement in the dorsolateral striatum and the nucleus accumbens, but not the dorsomedial striatum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-154
Number of pages8
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 21 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Dorsal striatum
  • accumbens
  • alcohol
  • dopamine
  • operant conditioning
  • voltammetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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