Neuronal representation of individual heroin choices in the orbitofrontal cortex

Addiction Biology
Karine GuillemSerge H Ahmed


Drug addiction is a harmful preference for drug use over and at the expense of other non-drug-related activities. We previously identified in the rat orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) a mechanism that influences individual preferences between cocaine use and an alternative action rewarded by a non-drug reward (i.e. sweet water). Here, we sought to test the generality of this mechanism to a different addictive drug, heroin. OFC neuronal activity was recorded while rats responded for heroin or the alternative non-drug reward separately or while they chose between the two. First, we found that heroin-rewarded and sweet water-rewarded actions were encoded by two non-overlapping OFC neuronal populations and that the relative size of the heroin population represented individual drug choices. Second, OFC neurons encoding the preferred action-which was the non-drug action in the large majority of individuals-progressively fired more than non-preferred action-coding neurons 1 second after the onset of choice trials and around 1 second before the preferred action was actually chosen, suggesting a pre-choice neuronal competition for action selection. Together with a previous study on cocaine choice, the present study on heroin choice reveals imp...Continue Reading


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Behavior, Animal
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