Investigation of the role of the nucleus accumbens in amphetamine-induced 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in the rat
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There is extensive evidence that the mesolimbic dopamine system underlies the production of 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in rats. In particular, the shell of the nucleus accumbens is associated with generation of frequency modulated 50 kHz calls (a specific type of 50 kHz call which can be subdivided into various subtypes). There is also evidence that amphetamine administered systemically preferentially increases the proportion of trill and step calls compared to other frequency modulated 50 kHz subtypes. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of drug administration route and the role of the nucleus accumbens shell in amphetamine-induced 50 kHz call profile in the rat. Three experiments investigated this by using subcutaneous and intra-accumbens microinjections of amphetamine, as well as procaine (a local anesthetic) blockade of the nucleus accumbens. Ultrasonic vocalizations were recorded digitally from 24 rats and were analysed for sonographic structure based on general call parameters. The results of the three experiments were partially supportive of the hypotheses. Systemic amphetamine was found to induce greater bandwidth in 50 kHz calling compared to spontaneous calls in a vehicle condition. Systemic amphetamine was also found to preferentially increase the proportion of trill and step subtypes compared to vehicle. Moreover, there was no difference in the proportions of 50 kHz subtypes resulting from intracerebral or systemic application of amphetamine. There was, however, a significant difference for bandwidth, with systemic amphetamine inducing greater bandwidth over intraaccumbens application. Procaine blockade of the nucleus accumbens shell paired with subcutaneous amphetamine produced no difference in bandwidth of calls compared with those after a vehicle pre-treatment similarly paired. There was no reduction in the proportions of trill and step 50 kHz subtypes as well, with the procaine condition showing significantly greater proportion of step calls. The results of the study support a role for the iii nucleus accumbens shell in the amphetamine-induced changes on 50 kHz call profile. They also indicate there are more regions and pathways involved in generating 50 kHz calls than the projections from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens. The implications of this work are that frequency modulated 50 kHz subtypes may be generated by distinct neurophysiological mechanisms and may represent a profitable avenue for investigating different circuits of 50 kHz call categories in the rat.