It is known that lateral hypothalamic stimulation or self-stimulation can release dopamine in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). The present experiment illustrates that an aversively motivated behavior can also do this. Rats were prepared with microdialysis probes in the NAc and electrodes in the lateral hypothalamus (LH) or medial hypothalamus (MH). Automatic stimulation of the LH increased extracellular dopamine in the NAc 30% as reported earlier. The animals would perform both self-stimulation to turn the current on and stimulation-escape to turn it off, suggesting a combination of reward and aversion. Escape responding increased extracellular dopamine (DA) 100%, even though there was less total stimulation. Automatic stimulation of the MH did the opposite of the LH by decreasing accumbens dopamine (-20%), and the animals would only perform stimulation-escape, indicative of pure aversion. But again, extracellular DA in the NAc increased 100% during escape responding. Thus DA can be released during negative reinforcement when an animal's behavior is reinforced by escape from lateral or medial hypothalamic stimulation. This suggests that DA release was correlated with stimulation- escape behavior, rather than the aversiveness of automatic stimulation.
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