The nucleus accumbens (NAcc) has been implicated in a variety of forms of reward-related learning, reflecting its anatomical connections with limbic cortical structures. After confirming that excitotoxic lesions of the anterior cingulate cortex (Ant Cing) impaired the acquisition of appetitive Pavlovian conditioning in an autoshaping procedure, the effects of excitotoxic lesions to the NAcc core or shell on autoshaping were also assessed. Only selective core lesions impaired Pavlovian approach. A subsequent experiment studied the effects of a disconnection of the Ant Cing and NAcc core, using an asymmetric lesion procedure, to determine whether these structures interact sequentially as part of a limbic corticostriatal system. Such lesioned rats were also significantly impaired relative to controls at autoshaping. These results demonstrate that the NAcc core and Ant Cing are "nodes" of a corticostriatal circuit involved in stimulus-reward learning.
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