Double dissociation of the effects of selective nucleus accumbens core and shell lesions on impulsive-choice behaviour and salience learning in rats

Helen H.J. Pothuizen, Ana L. Jongen-Rêlo, Joram Feldon, Kay Yan Benjamin Yee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


The nucleus accumbens can be subdivided into at least two anatomically distinct subregions: a dorsolateral 'core' and a ventromedial 'shell', and this distinction may extend to a functional dissociation. Here, we contrasted the effects of selective excitotoxic core and medial shell lesions on impulsive-choice behaviour using a delayed reward choice paradigm and a differential reward for low rates of responding (DRL) test, against a form of salience learning known as latent inhibition (LI). Core lesions led to enhanced impulsive choices as evidenced by a more pronounced shift from choosing a continuously reinforced lever to a partially reinforced lever, when a delay between lever press and reward delivery was imposed selectively on the former. The core lesions also impaired performance on a DRL task that required withholding the response for a fixed period of time in order to earn a reward. Medial shell lesions had no effect on these two tasks, but abolished the LI effect, as revealed by the failure of stimulus pre-exposure to retard subsequent conditioning to that stimulus in an active avoidance procedure in the lesioned animals. As expected, selective core lesions spared LI. The double dissociations demonstrated here support a functional segregation between nucleus accumbens core and shell, and add weight to the hypothesis that the core, but not the shell, subregion of the nucleus accumbens is preferentially involved in the control of choice behaviour under delayed reinforcement conditions and in the inhibitory control of goal-directed behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2605-2616
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioural inhibition
  • Delayed reinforcement
  • DRL
  • Latent inhibition
  • Ventral striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this