Microinjection of Morphine Into the Nucleus Accumbens Impairs Contextual Learning in Rats

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A unilateral microinjection of morphine into the amygdala impaired fear conditioning to both a conditioned stimulus (CS) paired with shock and the context where shock occurred, whereas a microinjection of morphine into the nucleus accumbens (NA) spared fear conditioning to the CS but impaired, in a dose-dependent and receptor-specific manner, fear conditioning to the context. Morphine in the NA also spared extinction and latent inhibition of a CS but abolished the context specificity of these effects and eliminated the increase in discriminability that results from preexposure to a to-be-shocked context. The results identify a role for the NA in the processes by which rats learn about a context and are discussed in terms of an opioid disruption of either within-context associations or of attentional processes that contribute to such associations.

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