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Methylphenidate and atomoxetine inhibit social play behavior through prefrontal and subcortical limbic mechanisms in rats.

The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience (2015-01-09)
E J Marijke Achterberg, Linda W M van Kerkhof, Ruth Damsteegt, Viviana Trezza, Louk J M J Vanderschuren
ABSTRACT

Positive social interactions during the juvenile and adolescent phases of life, in the form of social play behavior, are important for social and cognitive development. However, the neural mechanisms of social play behavior remain incompletely understood. We have previously shown that methylphenidate and atomoxetine, drugs widely used for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), suppress social play in rats through a noradrenergic mechanism of action. Here, we aimed to identify the neural substrates of the play-suppressant effects of these drugs. Methylphenidate is thought to exert its effects on cognition and emotion through limbic corticostriatal systems. Therefore, methylphenidate was infused into prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortical regions as well as into several subcortical limbic areas implicated in social play. Infusion of methylphenidate into the anterior cingulate cortex, infralimbic cortex, basolateral amygdala, and habenula inhibited social play, but not social exploratory behavior or locomotor activity. Consistent with a noradrenergic mechanism of action of methylphenidate, infusion of the noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor atomoxetine into these same regions also reduced social play. Methylphenidate administration into the prelimbic, medial/ventral orbitofrontal, and ventrolateral orbitofrontal cortex, mediodorsal thalamus, or nucleus accumbens shell was ineffective. Our data show that the inhibitory effects of methylphenidate and atomoxetine on social play are mediated through a distributed network of prefrontal and limbic subcortical regions implicated in cognitive control and emotional processes. These findings increase our understanding of the neural underpinnings of this developmentally important social behavior, as well as the mechanism of action of two widely used treatments for ADHD.

MATERIALS
Product Number
Brand
Product Description

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