Lateral septum inhibition reduces motivation for cocaine: Reversal by diazepam

Caroline B. Pantazis, Gary Aston-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The lateral septum (LS) is a brain region implicated in motivation, addiction, anxiety, and affect. We recently found that LS is necessary for cocaine-seeking behaviors including conditioned place preference and reinstatement of extinguished drug seeking, which involve LS input to limbic regions including ventral tegmental area (VTA) and orexin neurons in hypothalamus. Here, we microinjected baclofen-muscimol (B-M) in LS prior to testing in a behavioral economics (BE) paradigm. We found that intra-LS B-M decreased motivation (increased demand elasticity; α) for cocaine, but did not change consumption at low effort (Q0). We also compared the effects of LS inhibition with the effects of treatment with the benzodiazepine diazepam, which has been shown to facilitate reward pathways and disinhibit VTA dopamine neurons. Pretreatment with diazepam blocked the effects of LS inhibition and restored cocaine demand to that following vehicle treatment. These changes in cocaine demand after LS inhibition or diazepam were not due to effects on anxiety, as both manipulations produced similar effects on anxiety measures but opposing effects on drug taking. Collectively, these studies point to LS as a critical region driving motivation for cocaine, likely through its interactions with the mesolimbic dopamine system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12742
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology


  • addiction
  • lateral septum
  • motivation


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