Differential release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens evoked by low-versus high-frequency medial prefrontal cortex stimulation

Daniel F. Hill, Kate L. Parent, Christopher W. Atcherley, Stephen L. Cowen, Michael L. Heien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) coordinates goal-directed behaviors, which may be mediated through mPFC regulation of dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Furthermore, frequency-specific oscillatory activity between the frontal cortex and downstream structures may facilitate inter-region communication. Although high-frequency (e.g., 60 Hz) mPFC stimulation is known to increase basal dopamine levels in the NAc, little is known about how phasic dopamine release is affected by mPFC stimulation. Understanding the frequency-specific control of phasic dopamine release by mPFC stimulation could elucidate mechanisms by which the mPFC modulates other regions. It could also inform optimization of deep brain stimulation for treatment of neurological disorders. Objective: The goal of this work was to characterize the frequency response of NAc dopamine release resultant from mPFC stimulation. We hypothesized that the magnitude of dopamine release in the NAc would increase with increasing stimulation frequency. Methods: Electrical stimulation of the mPFC of anesthetized rats was delivered at 4–60 Hz and at varying durations while measuring NAc dopamine release with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. Results: mPFC stimulation resulted in phasic dopamine release in the NAc. Furthermore, 20 Hz stimulation evoked the largest peak response for stimulation intervals >5 s when compared to higher or lower frequencies. Conclusions: Activation of the mPFC drives dopamine release in the NAc in a complex frequency- and duration-dependent manner. This has implications for the use of deep brain stimulation treatment of disorders marked by dopaminergic dysregulation, and suggest that mPFC may exert more specialized control over neuromodulator release than previously understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-434
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Beta
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Dopamine
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Nucleus accumbens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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