Critical role for ventral tegmental glutamate in preference for a cocaine-conditioned environment

Glenda C. Harris, Gary Aston-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Cocaine administration induces glutamatergic activation within the mesolimbic-accumbens system. This activation has been linked to the behavioraleffects of cocaine and recently to the induction of long-term potentiation in dopamine neurons within the ventraltegmentalarea (VTA). We sought to determine if glutamate receptor activation is also crucialto the development of a conditioned placepreference (CPP) to cocaine's rewarding effects. Two groups of rats were given intra-VTA injections of either vehicle ora combination ofNMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) and AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) receptor antagonists (AP50.24nmolplus CNQX 0.12nmolper side) priorto each cocaine place-conditioning trial. Microinjections of the glutamate antagonistscompletely blocked the development of a cocaine CPP when given within, but not when given outside of, the VTA. These data indicatethat glutamatergic activity in the VTA may be crucialfor learning to associate environmentalstimuliwith cocaine exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-76
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • AMPA receptor antagonist
  • Cocaine
  • Dopamine
  • Glutamate
  • NMDA receptor antagonist
  • Place conditioning
  • Ventraltegmentalarea


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