Amphetamine's dose-dependent effects on dorsolateral striatum sensorimotor neuron firing

Sisi Ma, Anthony P. Pawlak, Jeiwon Cho, David H. Root, David J. Barker, Mark O. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Amphetamine elicits motoric changes by increasing the activity of central neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, but how these neurochemical signals are transduced into motor commands is unclear. The dorsolateral striatum (DLS), a component of the cortico-subcortical reentrant motor loop, contains abundant neurotransmitter transporters that amphetamine could affect. It has been hypothesized that DLS medium spiny neurons contribute to amphetamine's motor effects. To study striatal activity contributing to amphetamine-induced movements, activity of DLS neurons related to vertical head movement was recorded while tracking head movements before and after acute amphetamine injection. Relative to saline, all amphetamine doses induced head movements above pre-injection levels, revealing an inverted U-shaped dose-response function. Lower doses (1. mg/kg and 2. mg/kg, intraperitoneal) induced a greater number of long (distance and duration) movements than the high dose (4. mg/kg), which induced stereotypy. Firing rates (FR) of individual head movement neurons were compared before and after injection during similar head movements, defined by direction, distance, duration, and apex. Changes in FR induced by amphetamine were co-determined by dose and pre-injection FR of the neuron. Specifically, all doses increased the FRs of slower firing neurons but decreased the FRs of faster firing neurons. The magnitudes of elevation or reduction were greater at lower doses, but less pronounced at the high dose, forming an inverted U function. Modulation of DLS firing may interfere with sensorimotor processing. Furthermore, pervasive elevation of slow firing neurons' FRs may feed-forward and increase excitability in thalamocortical premotor areas, contributing to the increased movement initiation rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-161
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - 1 May 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse grants [ DA004551 , DA006886 , DA026252 , DA032270 ].


  • Amphetamine
  • Dorsolateral striatum
  • Motoric behavior


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