Functional role for cortical-striatal circuitry in modulating alcohol self-administration

Anel A. Jaramillo, Patrick A. Randall, Spencer Stewart, Brayden Fortino, Kalynn Van Voorhies, Joyce Besheer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The cortical-striatal brain circuitry is heavily implicated in drug-use. As such, the present study investigated the functional role of cortical-striatal circuitry in modulating alcohol self-administration. Given that a functional role for the nucleus accumbens core (AcbC) in modulating alcohol-reinforced responding has been established, we sought to test the role of cortical brain regions with afferent projections to the AcbC: the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the insular cortex (IC). Long-Evans rats were trained to self-administer alcohol (15% alcohol (v/v)+2% sucrose (w/v)) during 30 min sessions. To test the functional role of the mPFC or IC, we utilized a chemogenetic technique (hM4Di-Designer Receptors Activation by Designer Drugs) to silence neuronal activity prior to an alcohol self-administration session. Additionally, we chemogenetically silenced mPFC→AcbC or IC→AcbC projections, to investigate the role of cortical-striatal circuitry in modulating alcohol self-administration. Chemogenetically silencing the mPFC decreased alcohol self-administration, while silencing the IC increased alcohol self-administration, an effect absent in mCherry-Controls. Interestingly, silencing mPFC→AcbC projections had no effect on alcohol self-administration. In contrast, silencing IC→AcbC projections decreased alcohol self-administration, in a reinforcer-specific manner as there was no effect in rats trained to self-administer sucrose (0.8%, w/v). Additionally, no change in self-administration was observed in the mCherry-Controls. Together these data demonstrate the complex role of the cortical-striatal circuitry while implicating a role for the insula-striatal circuit in modulating ongoing alcohol self-administration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-53
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Alcohol
  • Insular cortex
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Nucleus accumbens core
  • Reinforcement
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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