Adaptations in medial prefrontal cortex function associated with amphetamine-induced behavioral sensitization

J. M. Gulley, J. J. Stanis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuroadaptations in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) are hypothesized to play an important role in the behavioral changes associated with repeated psychostimulant exposure, but there are few published studies that measure neuronal activity during the development and expression of sensitization. To address this, we recorded single neuron activity in the medial PFC (mPFC) of male rats that were exposed for 5 days to saline or amphetamine (AMPH; 1.0 mg/kg i.p.) and then given saline or AMPH challenges following a three-day withdrawal. We found that rats exposed to AMPH developed locomotor sensitization to the drug that emerged on the fifth treatment session and became statistically significant at AMPH challenge. This was associated with no change in baseline (i.e., pre-injection) activity of mPFC neurons across the treatment or challenge sessions. Following the first AMPH injection, mPFC neurons responded primarily with reductions in firing, with the overall pattern and magnitude of responses remaining largely similar following repeated treatment. The exception was in the minority of cells that respond to AMPH with increases in firing rate. In this population, the magnitude of excitations peaked during the fifth AMPH exposure and was still relatively elevated at the AMPH challenge. Furthermore, these units increased firing during a saline challenge that was given to assess associative conditioning. These results suggest that AMPH-induced adaptations in mPFC function are not as apparent as AMPH-induced adaptations in behavior. When mPFC adaptations do occur, they appear limited to the population of neurons that increase their firing in response to AMPH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-624
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 17 2010


  • Electrophysiology
  • Infralimbic
  • Locomotor activity
  • Prelimbic
  • Single-unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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