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Dissociation of the attentional and motivational effects of pimozide on the threshold for rewarding brain stimulation.

Author(s): Bird M, Kornetsky C

Affiliation(s): Laboratory of Behavioral Pharmacology, Boston University School of Medicine, MA 02118.

Publication date & source: 1990-02, Neuropsychopharmacology., 3(1):33-40.

The decreased sensitivity of animals to rewarding brain stimulation caused by pimozide has been interpreted as a selective pharmacologic blockade of central reward pathways rather than a nonspecific disruption of performance. In an attempt to confirm this hypothesis, the effects of pimozide on both reward and detection thresholds for intracranial stimulation delivered to the medial forebrain bundle-lateral hypothalamic area (MFB-LH) were determined in four animals. The drug caused a systematic increase in the reward threshold of each subject but had no such effect on the detection threshold. We conclude that pimozide selectively inhibits the rewarding effects of brain stimulation, and that therefore, the D2 dopamine receptor has a major role in activating central reward pathways subserving pharmacologic and electrical reinforcement. The dual anhedonic/antipsychotic effects of neuroleptic medication are discussed as a possible paradox of central importance to the psychopathology of schizophrenia.

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