Activation of specific central dopamine pathways: Locomotion and footshock

Samuel G. Speciale, Joseph D. Miller, Brian A. McMillen, Dwight C. German

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The present study examined whether neostriatal monoamine biochemistry was activated in a bilaterally symmetrical fashion during a non-lateralized forward locomotor task, and whether specific midbrain dopamine (DA) neuronal systems were influenced selectively by specific behavioral tasks. Monoamine concentrations (DA, serotonin and their metabolites) were measured, using high pressure liquid chromatography, in the neostriatum, nucleus accumbens, and medial prefrontal cortex in rats that were either induced to walk forward in a motorized rotating wheel (two speeds) or were exposed to footshock stress (two shock intensities). Our results demonstrate that during locomotor behavior there is an increase in neostriatal DA metabolism, but not in serotonin metabolism. Furthermore, the increase in DA metabolism was found: (a) in both right and left neostriatal nuclei, but with significantly less asymmetry than occurred in non-locomoting control rats; and (b) within the neostriatum at both speeds and also in the nucleus accumbens at the higher speed. Locomotion had no effect on DA metabolism in the prefrontal cortex. With both shock intensities there was increased DA metabolism in the prefrontal cortex, whereas during the low shock intensity there was also an increased DA metabolism in the nucleus accumbens. At the high level of footshock, which evoked jumping and running escape behavior, there was also an increase in neostriatal DA metabolism. These data indicate that a non-lateralized forward locomotor task activates DA metabolism primarily in the less metabolically active hemisphere. Secondly, we found that specific subgroups of midbrain DA neurons can be selectively activated by specific behavioral tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-38
Number of pages6
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986


  • Dopamine
  • Footshock
  • Laterality
  • Locomotion
  • Neostriatum
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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