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Neuropeptide substance P (SP) has reinforcing and memory facilitating effects after its peripheral or central application. Rats self-inject SP into the ventromedial caudate-putamen and SP microinjections into the basal forebrain induce place preference with a simultaneous increase of dopamine level. In the amygdaloid body SP positive neurones and terminals have been identified. The aim of the present study was to examine the possible reinforcing effects of SP in the basolateral amygdala (ABL). CFY male rats were conditioned in two-compartment passive avoidance paradigm and place preference was examined in two-compartment-box and in circular open field. Animals were microinjected bilaterally with 10 ng SP, 100 ng SP or vehicle solution (0.4 ml/side) into the ABL. Results showed that post-shock infusion of 10 ng SP significantly enhanced passive avoidance learning while 100 ng SP was ineffective. In two-compartment-box and in circular open field place preference did not develop after SP treatments, however. Our data are the first to demonstrate that SP in the ABL is involved in learning and memory processes related to aversive situations. Results that SP microinjections were not followed by rewarding-reinforcing consequences in place preference paradigms indicate that the local SP network in the ABL is not involved in neuronal circuitry responsible for addictive behaviour.

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