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Reinstatement in a cocaine vs. food choice situation: A model of drug relapse

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posted on 2023-09-07, 05:17 authored by Brendan J. Tunstall

Recent studies (for review see Ahmed, 2010; 2012) show that when given a mutually exclusive choice between cocaine and food, rats almost exclusively choose food. The present experiment investigated potential shifts in preference between levers associated with either food or cocaine which might occur during extinction (food and cocaine no longer available) and during footshock-induced, cocaine-primed, and food-primed reinstatement. During self-administration sessions where food and cocaine were simultaneously available, rats demonstrated a stable food preference, choosing food over cocaine on 83% of trials. During extinction when neither reinforcer was available, no preference between levers was evident and responding decreased until rats responded on the previously food- and cocaine-associated levers at equally low rates. Footshock resulted in a non-specific reinstatement of responding upon both levers, while cocaine-priming produced a significant preference for cocaine seeking over food seeking. This suggests that the mechanism underlying footshock-induced reinstatement is distinct from that of cocaine-primed reinstatement. Food-priming engendered a mild, non-specific increase in responding on both levers. Although rats generally prefer food over cocaine when presented with a choice between these primary reinforcers, the present results suggest that in certain situations cocaine-seeking behavior prevails over food-seeking behavior.



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Degree awarded: M.A. Psychology. American University