Separate vmPFC Ensembles Control Cocaine Self-Administration Versus Extinction in Rats

Brandon L. Warren, Louisa Kane, Marco Venniro, Pooja Selvam, Richard Quintana-Feliciano, Michael P. Mendoza, Rajtarun Madangopal, Lauren Komer, Leslie R. Whitaker, F. Javier Rubio, Jennifer M. Bossert, Daniele Caprioli, Yavin Shaham, Bruce T. Hope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent studies suggest that the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) encodes both operant drug self-administration and extinction memories. Here, we examined whether these opposing memories are encoded by distinct neuronal ensembles within the vmPFC with different outputs to the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in male and female rats. Using cocaine self-administration (3 h/d for 14 d) and extinction procedures, we demonstrated that vmPFC was similarly activated (indexed by Fos) during cocaine-seeking tests after 0 (no-extinction) or 7 extinction sessions. Selective Daun02 lesioning of the self-administration ensemble (no-extinction) decreased cocaine seeking, whereas Daun02 lesioning of the extinction ensemble increased cocaine seeking. Retrograde tracing with fluorescent cholera toxin subunit B injected into NAc combined with Fos colabeling in vmPFC indicated that vmPFC self-administration ensembles project to NAc core while extinction ensembles project to NAc shell. Functional disconnection experiments (Daun02 lesioning of vmPFC and acute dopamine D1-receptor blockade with SCH39166 in NAc core or shell) confirm that vmPFC ensembles interact with NAc core versus shell to play dissociable roles in cocaine self-administration versus extinction, respectively. Our results demonstrate that neuronal ensembles mediating cocaine self-administration and extinction comingle in vmPFC but have distinct outputs to the NAc core and shell that promote or inhibit cocaine seeking.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Neuronal ensembles within the vmPFC have recently been shown to play a role in self-administration and extinction of food seeking. Here, we used the Daun02 chemogenetic inactivation procedure, which allows selective inhibition of neuronal ensembles identified by the activity marker Fos, to demonstrate that different ensembles for cocaine self-administration and extinction memories coexist in the ventral mPFC and interact with distinct subregions of the nucleus accumbens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7394-7407
Number of pages14
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - Sep 11 2019


  • Daun02 inactivation
  • extinction
  • infralimbic cortex
  • operant conditioning
  • RNAscope
  • vmPFC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Separate vmPFC Ensembles Control Cocaine Self-Administration Versus Extinction in Rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this