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Abstract

Sections of the nucleus accumbuns region , in the brain of rats injec


ted with amphetamine , was analysed and compared with those injected wi
th cocaine . A total of 18 slides per substance ,was viewed under a m
icroscope in order to count the c-fos cells produced. While the two psych
o stimulant drugs are known to have an effect on the chemical neurot
ransmitter â dopamine , it was initially assumed that both amphetamine and coc
aine had similar effects on the targeted regions of the brain (sd226 st
udy guide, 2009). However , as cocaine acts as an inhibitory , blocking
the reuptake of dopamine , and amphetamine acts as an excitory , promo
ting the release of dopamine , the c-fos experiment conducted was design
ed to test the hypothesis put forward â that amphetamine will have a differ
ent effect to cocaine at the nucleus accumbuns. â With the percentage of
c-fos cells produced being higher in amphetamine treated rats than
those produced under cocaine treatment , the data is in accordance with
the idea that amphetamine does have a different effect than cocaine
at the nucleus accumbuns region. It seems that there is enough capaci
ty to suggest that the operation of the two psycho - stimulant drugs
work in opposite ways within the nucleus accumbuns region of the brai
n

Introduction
The NAc has been identified as a targeted area for psycho-stimulants.
The repetitive activation of this area, through dopaminergic action, is
believed to play a role in establishing drug dependency. It was initi
ally assumed that both amphetamine and cocaine had similar effects on
the targeted region , however recent studies, documenting the cellular e
ffects of amphetamine and cocaine , suggest the initial assumption is i
nvalid (sd226 study guide,2007) . The c-fos experiment therefore researches
the hypothesis - amphetamine will have a different effect to cocaine
at the NAc . A total of 6 rats was studied using immunohistochemistr
y , 3 injected with 5mg/kg of amphetamine in saline and 3 injected wi
th 15mg/kg of cocaine in saline. Within 2 hours the brain was remove
d and the NAc was dissected. The c-fos cells was counted under a micr
oscope and a t-test was performed . The null hypothesis suggests there
is no differences between the two substances at the NAc.
Results.

For each treatment group, microscopic slides containing sections of the


nucleus accumbuns where viewed . A total of 18 slides was counted for
amphetamine treated c-fos and 18 slides for cocaine treated c-fos. Th
e counts from each slide was grouped together accordingly and a t-tes
t (fig.2) was performed. Results showed a significant difference betwee
n the amphetamine induced c-fos cells and the c-fos cells induced by
cocaine, on the nucleus accumbens . Amphetamine showed 15.88 +_ 9.59 (mean
and standard deviation of grouped c-fos cells), compared to cocaine sho
wing 9.05 +_ 6.02.The t-test also resulted in an expected pattern of a
partial data overlap of T = 2.55. fig.3 shows a data overlap between th
e two conditions , with amphetamine having a larger mean than cocaine.
The frequencies for both amphetamine and cocaine show a classic distri
bution of a bell shaped symmetry at the mean value.With P = 0.01 (fig.2
.) The results are statistically reliable. Therefore the null hypothesis can be
rejected .
Discussion

This study shows that the psycho-stimulant drug amphetamine does have
a different effect to cocaine at the nucleus accumbens. â In agreement wit
h recent studies the initial assumption that amphetamine and cocaine h
ave a similar effect on the NAc , is invalid. The c-fos experiment h
as observed differences in the effects of the two psycho-stimulants. In
contrast to amphetamine, having increased the amount of c-fos cells
produced in the NAc , cocaine inhibited c-fos substantially , decreasing
the production rate.
In researching the effects of amphetamine and cocaine on rats , the re
sults seem very supportive when looking at the effects of drug abuse
in humans. As c-fos has similar effects to the neurotransmitter â dopamine
, the experiment provides evidence supporting the theory , that the t
wo psycho-stimulants amphetamine and cocaine operate in different ways wi
thin the NAc.
Although the results from this c-fos experiment maybe challenged by ot
hers , due to the cell count procedure being conducted by a number of
researchers viewing the same slides and resulting in varied counts. A
inter-rater reliability check was carried out to give a more suitable
prediction of the correct count. This is problematic in any cell count stu
dy. Nevertheless there does seem to be a difference between the effect
s of amphetamine and cocaine in the NAc .