The cortical-striatal brain circuitry is heavily implicated in drug-use. As such, the present study investigated the functional role of cortical-striatal circuitry in modulating alcohol self-administration. Given that a functional role for the nucleus accumbens core (AcbC) in modulating alcohol-reinforced responding has been established, we sought to test the role of cortical brain regions with afferent projections to the AcbC: the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the insular cortex (IC). Long-Evans rats were trained to self-administer alcohol (15% alcohol (v/v)+2% sucrose (w/v)) during 30 min sessions. To test the functional role of the mPFC or IC, we utilized a chemogenetic technique (hM4Di-Designer Receptors Activation by Designer Drugs) to silence neuronal activity prior to an alcohol self-administration session. Additionally, we chemogenetically silenced mPFC→AcbC or IC→AcbC projections, to investigate the role of cortical-striatal circuitry in modulating alcohol self-administration. Chemogenetically silencing the mPFC decreased alcohol self-administration, while silencing the IC increased alcohol self-administration, an effect absent in mCherry-Controls. Interestingly, silencing mPFC→AcbC projections had no effect on alcohol self-administration. In contrast, silencing IC→AcbC projections decreased alcohol self-administration, in a reinforcer-specific manner as there was no effect in rats trained to self-administer sucrose (0.8%, w/v). Additionally, no change in self-administration was observed in the mCherry-Controls. Together these data demonstrate the complex role of the cortical-striatal circuitry while implicating a role for the insula-striatal circuit in modulating ongoing alcohol self-administration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience