• Choose your path: Divergent basolateral amygdala efferents differentially mediate incentive motivation, flexibility and decision-making

      Keefer, Sara E; Gyawali, Utsav; Calu, Donna J (Elsevier B.V., 2021-04-19)
      To survive in a complex environment, individuals form associations between environmental stimuli and rewards to organize and optimize reward seeking behaviors. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) uses these learned associations to inform decision-making processes. In this review, we describe functional projections between BLA and its cortical and striatal targets that promote learning and motivational processes central to decision-making. Specifically, we compare and contrast divergent projections from the BLA to the orbitofrontal (OFC) and to the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and examine the roles of these pathways in associative learning, value-guided decision-making, choice behaviors, as well as cue and context-driven drug seeking. Finally, we consider how these projections are involved in disorders of motivation, with a focus on Substance Use Disorder.
    • Role of BNST CRFR1 Receptors in Incubation of Fentanyl Seeking

      Gyawali, Utsav; Martin, David A; Sulima, Agnieszka; Rice, Kenner C; Calu, Donna J (Frontiers Media S.A., 2020-08-28)
      The time-dependent increase in cue-triggered opioid seeking, termed "incubation of opioid craving," is modeled in rodents by examining responding for opioid-associated cues after a period of forced abstinence. With opioid drugs, withdrawal symptoms may heighten cue reactivity by recruiting brain systems involved in both reward seeking and stress responses. Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is a critical driver of stress-induced relapse to drug seeking. Here, we sought to determine whether BNST CRF receptor 1 (CRFR1) signaling drives incubation of opioid craving in opioid dependent and non-dependent rats. First, we tested whether BNST CRFR1 signaling drives incubation of opioid craving in rats with short-access fentanyl self-administration experience (2.5 μg/kg/infusion, 3 h/day for 10 days). On Day 1 of forced abstinence, we gave bilateral intra-BNST vehicle injections to all rats and measured lever responding for opioid cues in the absence of fentanyl infusions. On Day 30 of forced abstinence, we gave an identical test after bilateral intra-BNST injections of vehicle or CRFR1 receptor antagonist, R121919 (1 μg/0.3 μL/hemisphere). Vehicle treated rats showed greater responding for opioid associated cues on Day 30 relative to Day 1, and this incubation effect was prevented by intra-BNST R121919 on Day 30. Next, we incorporated an opioid-dependence procedure to investigate whether BNST CRFR1 signaling drives opioid cue-reactivity to a greater extent in opioid-dependent relative to non-dependent rats. We trained rats to self-administer fentanyl for 5 days before initiating the dependence phase and resuming daily fentanyl self-administration sessions for 10 days. We gave intra-BNST R121919 or vehicle injections before testing during acute (Day 5) or protracted (Day 30) withdrawal. During acute withdrawal, antagonizing BNST CRFR1 decreased the number of press bouts without affecting bout size or duration. These patterns of responding with R121919 treatment resulted in less fentanyl-associated conditioned reinforcement during test. Together, these findings suggest a role for BNST CRFR1 signaling in driving cue-reinforced opioid seeking after periods of forced abstinence.