Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

January 2008


Published in Behavioral Neuroscience 122:1 (2008), pp. 140–150; doi 10.1037/0735-7044.122.1.140. Copyright © 2008 by the American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


Access to novelty might provide an alternative learning history that competes with conditioned drug reward. We tested this suggestion in rats using a place conditioning procedure with cocaine and novelty. In Experiment 1, rats were conditioned with cocaine to prefer one side of an apparatus. In a subsequent phase, cocaine exposure continued; however, on the unpaired side, separate group of rats had access to novel objects, cocaine injections, or saline with no objects. Pairings with novel objects or cocaine shifted a preference away from the cocaine-paired environment during drug-free and drug-challenge tests. Experiment 2 tested novelty’s impact when cocaine exposure was discontinued. The identical procedures were used, except drug exposure ceased on the cocaine-paired side during the second phase. Both groups expressed a preference for the cocaine compartment. This preference was maintained for rats that did not have novel objects; however, rats that experienced novelty spent similar amounts of time in both compartments during both tests. Overall, the conditioned rewarding effects of novelty competed with those of cocaine as evidenced by a change in choice behaviors motivated by drug reward.