Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2007 April ; 86(4): 838–846. Used by permission.


The present research sought to test whether caffeine functioned as a Pavlovian cue in two ways—as a positive drug feature or as a conditional stimulus (CS). As a positive feature (Experiment 1), brief light presentations were followed by sucrose only on sessions in which caffeine (10 mg/kg) was administered. On intermixed saline sessions, light presentations were not followed by sucrose. The light came to control robust goal-tracking (i.e., conditioned responding) only in caffeine sessions. Thus, caffeine disambiguates when the light was paired with sucrose. Decreasing the dose of caffeine decreased the conditioned responding evoked by the light (ED50=4.16 mg/kg). Neither nicotine nor amphetamine substituted for the caffeine feature. As a CS, caffeine (10 or 30 mg/kg, Experiments 2a and 2b, respectively) signaled intermittent access to sucrose—no light presentations. No sucrose or lights were presented on intermixed saline sessions. The caffeine CS, regardless of training dose, acquired the ability to evoke only a weak goal-tracking CR. The nature of this dissociation between caffeine as a drug feature versus a CS is discussed within the context of past research finding a similar dissociation with amphetamine and chlordiazepoxide, but not with nicotine.