Upon arrival, all rats passed a week-long adaptation period to the new housing environment. They were divided into two groups and exposed daily to saline or cocaine (15 mg/kg, IP) for 7 consecutive days. Locomotor activity was measured on days 1 and 7. The rats were first habituated to the activity boxes for 1 h, and their locomotor activity was measured for 1 h immediately following saline or cocaine IP injections. To avoid any confounding effects of conditioning, the drugs were administered to the rats in different places (i.e., in the activity boxes for the first and the seventh injections and in their home cages for the other injections). The regimen of drug injection and dosages that we used here has previously been shown to produce locomotor sensitization [26,27]. Three weeks after the last injection (a 21-day period of withdrawal), all rats were perfused and their brains were removed for immersion-fixation. Brain sections obtained from both saline - and cocaine-exposed rats were stained simultaneously and mounted onto the same gelatin-coated slides. Using confocal imaging, the analyses of GluA1 intensity in PSD and extra-PSD areas in the NAcc core and shell were conducted by a researcher who was blinded to the treatment group of the samples. A total of 8 rats were included for statistical analysis in this study, with no animals excluded.

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