Dose- and rate-dependent effects of cocaine on striatal firing related to licking

Chengke Tang, Taliah Mittler, Dawn C. Duke, Yun Zhu, Anthony P. Pawlak, Mark O. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


To examine the role of striatal mechanisms in cocaine-induced stereotyped licking, we investigated the acute effects of cocaine on striatal neurons in awake, freely moving rats before and after cocaine administration (0, 5, 10, or 20 mg/kg). Stereotyped licking was induced only by the high dose. Relative to control (saline), cocaine reduced lick duration and concurrently increased interlick interval, particularly at the high dose, but it did not affect licking rhythm. Firing rates of striatal neurons phasically related to licking movements were compared between matched licks before and after injection, minimizing any influence of sensorimotor variables on changes in firing. Both increases and decreases in average firing rate of striatal neurons were observed after cocaine injection, and these changes exhibited a dose-dependent pattern that strongly depended on predrug firing rate. At the middle and high doses relative to the saline group, the average firing rates of slow firing neurons were increased by cocaine, resulting from a general elevation of movement-related firing rates. In contrast, fast firing neurons showed decreased average firing rates only in the high-dose group, with reduced firing rates across the entire range for these neurons. Our findings suggest that at the high dose, increased phasic activity of slow firing striatal neurons and simultaneously reduced phasic activity of fast firing striatal neurons may contribute, respectively, to the continual initiation of stereotypic movements and the absence of longer movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-713
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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