The nucleus accumbens (NAc) receives excitatory afferents from several cortical and limbic regions and dense dopaminergic inputs from the ventral tegmental area. We examined the effects of dopamine (DA) D1 and D2 selective drugs on the responses evoked in the NAc shell neurons recorded in vitro by stimulation of hippocampal and amygdaloid afferents. Activation of hippocampal and amygdaloid afferents induced excitatory postsynaptic responses that were depressed by bath application of DA in most of the cells recorded. The DA effect was substantially blocked by the D1 receptor antagonist SCH 23390, but not by the D2 receptor antagonist eticlopride. Moreover, the D1 receptor agonist SKF 38393, but not the D2 receptor agonist quinpirole, mimicked the effects of DA, although a small population of neurons exhibited a D1-mediated facilitation of the EPSP amplitude following fornix stimulation. These data demonstrate a DA receptor subtype-specific modulation of glutamatergic inputs to the NAc, with D1 agonists attenuating amygdaloid inputs, whereas hippocampal-evoked responses were either depressed or potentiated by D1 stimulation. Such facilitation or attenuation of hippocampal afferents against a background of suppression of other afferents would permit the hippocampus to have a dominant influence over behavior during periods of exploration.
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