The hemispheric content of dopamine and its metabolites in the frontal cortex, caudatus putamen and nucleus accumbens septi was evaluated in relation to behavioral lateralization assessed by paw preference. Three groups of C3H/He mice were selected on the basis of their performance in the paw preference test (left-handed, ambidextrous and right-handed) and levels of dopamine and its metabolites were measured in the two hemispheres of each group. Mice showed significant differences in hemispheric content of dopamine and 3-4 dihydroxyphenylacetic acid in the nucleus accumbens septi depending on the behavioral lateralization as expressed by paw preference. The hemispheric dominance (right hemisphere/right hemisphere + left hemisphre content of dopamine and metabolites × 100) was also calculated for each mouse. Significant differences in hemispheric dominance for dopamine, 3-4 dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and 3-methoxytyramine in the nucleus accumbens were found between right-handed and left-handed mice. This dominance was ipsilateral to the preferred paw: % right hemisphere/total content of dopamine and its metabolites were lowest in left-handed, highest in right-handed and intermediate in ambidextrous mice. Finally, individual % right hemisphere/total content for dopamine, 3-4 dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and 3-methoxytyramine in the nucleus accumbens positively correlated with individual paw prefernnce scores. The analysis of the other brain areas did not reveal any significant effect. These results suggest a strong relationship between mesoaccumbens dopamine asymmetries and both the direction and the intensity of behavioural lateralization as expressed by paw preference in mice.
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