A Role of Nucleus Accumbens Dopamine Receptors in the Nucleus Accumbens Core, but Not Shell, in Fear Prediction Error

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Two experiments used an associative blocking design to study the role of dopamine receptors in the nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh) and core (AcbC) in fear prediction error. Rats in the experimental groups were trained to a visual fear-conditioned stimulus (conditional stimulus [CS]) A in Stage I, whereas rats in the control groups were not. In Stage II, all rats received compound fear conditioning of the visual CSA and an auditory CSB. Rats were later tested for their fear responses to CSB. All rats received microinjections of saline or the D1–D2 receptor antagonist cis-(z)-flupenthixol prior to Stage II. These microinjections targeted either the AcbSh (Experiment 1) or the AcbC (Experiment 2). In each experiment, Stage I fear conditioning of CSA blocked fear learning to CSB. Microinjection of cis-(z)-flupenthixol (10 or 20 μg) into the AcbSh (Experiment 1) had no effect on fear learning or associative blocking. In contrast, microinjection of cis-(z)-flupenthixol (10 or 20 μg) into the AcbC (Experiment 2) attenuated blocking and so enabled fear learning to CSB. These results identify the AcbC as the critical locus for dopamine receptor contributions to fear prediction error and the associative blocking of fear learning.

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