We have previously shown that impulsivity in rats predicts the emergence of compulsive cocaine seeking and taking, and is coupled to decreased D 2/3 receptor availability in the ventral striatum. As withdrawal from cocaine normalises high impulsivity in rats, we investigated, using positron emission tomography (PET), the effects of response-contingent cocaine administration on D 2/3 receptor availability in the striatum. Rats were screened for impulsive behavior on the five-choice serial reaction time task. After a baseline PET scan with the D 2/3 ligand 18 F fallypride, rats were trained to self-administer cocaine for 15 days under a long-access schedule. As a follow-up, rats were assessed for impulsivity and underwent a second 18 F fallypride PET scan. At baseline, we found that D 2/3 receptor availability was significantly lower in the left, but not right, ventral striatum of high-impulsive rats compared with low-impulsive rats. While the number of self-administered cocaine infusions was not different between the two impulsivity groups, impulsivity selectively decreased in high-impulsive rats withdrawn from cocaine. This effect was accompanied by a significant increase in D 2/3 receptor availability in the left, but not right, ventral striatum. We further report that D 2/3 receptor availability was inversely related to baseline D 2/3 receptor availability in the ventral striatum of high-impulsive rats, as well as to the left and right dorsal striatum of both low-impulsive and high-impulsive rats. These findings indicate that the reduction in impulsivity in high-impulsive rats by prior cocaine exposure may be mediated by a selective correction of deficient D 2/3 receptor availability in the ventral striatum. A similar baseline-dependent mechanism may account for the therapeutic effects of stimulant drugs in clinical disorders such as ADHD.
- attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- nucleus accumbens
- positron emission tomography