It's only a matter of time: longevity of cocaine-induced changes in dendritic spine density in the nucleus accumbens

Ethan M. Anderson, David W. Self

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Scopus citations


Many reports show that repeated cocaine administration increases dendritic spine density in medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens, but there is less agreement regarding the persistence of these changes. In this review we examine these discrepancies by systematically categorizing papers that measured cocaine-induced changes in accumbal spine density. We compare published reports based on withdrawal time, short versus long duration of cocaine administration, environmental pairing with cocaine, and core/shell subregion specificity. Together, these studies suggest that cocaine exposure induces rapid and dose-dependent increases in spine density in accumbens neurons that may play a role in the maintenance of cocaine use and vulnerability to early relapse, but are not a factor in behavioral changes associated with longer abstinence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-123
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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