The paraventricular thalamic nucleus (PVT) is a brain region involved in regulating arousal, goal-oriented behaviors, and drug seeking, all key factors playing a role in substance use disorder. Given this, we investigated the temporal effects of administering morphine, an opioid with strongly addictive properties, on PVT neuronal function in mice using acute brain slices. Here, we show that morphine administration and electrophysiological recordings that occur during periods of animal inactivity (light cycle) elicit increases in PVT neuronal function during a 24-h abstinence time point. Furthermore, we show that morphine-induced increases in PVT neuronal activity at 24-h abstinence are occluded when morphine administration and recordings are performed during an animals’ active state (dark cycle). Based on our electrophysiological results combined with previous findings demonstrating that PVT neuronal activity regulates drug-seeking behaviors, we investigated whether timing morphine administration with periods of vigilance (dark cycle) would decrease drug-seeking behaviors in an animal model of substance use disorder. We found that context-induced morphine-seeking behaviors were intact regardless of the time morphine was administered (e.g., light cycle or dark cycle). Our electrophysiological results suggest that timing morphine with various states of arousal may impact the firing of PVT neurons during abstinence. Although, this may not impact context-induced drug-seeking behaviors.
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