Although the ventral striatum (nucleus accumbens; NAc) and dorsal striatum are associated with different behaviors, these structures are anatomically and physiologically similar. In particular, dopaminergic afferents from the midbrain appear to be essential for the normal functioning of both nuclei. Although a number of studies have examined the effects of dopamine on the physiology of NAc or striatal cells, results have varied, and few studies have compared directly the actions of dopamine on both of these nuclei. Here we use slice preparations of the NAc and dorsal striatum to compare how synaptic transmission in these nuclei is modulated by catecholmines. As previously reported, dopamine depressed excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) in the NAc. Surprisingly, however, neither EPSPs nor IPSPs in the dorsal striatum were affected by dopamine. Similarly, norepinephrine depressed excitatory synaptic transmission in the NAc by an α-adrenergic receptor-dependent mechanism but was without effect on excitatory transmission in the dorsal striatum. Inhibitory synaptic transmission was not affected by norepinephrine in either structure. These results suggest that the functional roles of dopamine and norepinephrine are not the same in the dorsal striatum and the NAc.
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