Competition Between Novelty and Cocaine Conditioned Reward Is Sensitive to Drug Dose and Retention Interval
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The conditioned rewarding effects of novelty compete with those of cocaine for control over choice behavior using a place conditioning task. The purpose of the present study was to use multiple doses of cocaine to determine the extent of this competition and to determine whether novelty’s impact on cocaine reward was maintained over an abstinence period. In Experiment 1, rats were conditioned with cocaine (7.5, 20, or 30 mg/kg ip) to prefer one side of an unbiased place conditioning apparatus relative to the other. In a subsequent phase, all rats received alternating daily confinements to the previously cocaine paired and unpaired sides of the apparatus. During this phase, half the rats had access to a novel object on their initially unpaired side; the remaining rats did not receive objects. The ability of novelty to compete with cocaine in a drug free and cocaine challenge test was sensitive to cocaine dose. In Experiment 2, a place preference was established with 10 mg/kg cocaine and testing occurred after 1, 14, or 28 day retention intervals. Findings indicate that choice behaviors mediated by cocaine conditioning are reduced with the passing of time. Taken together, competition between cocaine and novelty conditioned rewards are sensitive to drug dose and retention interval.