Heroin versus cocaine: opposite choice as a function of context but not of drug history in the rat

De Luca, Maria Teresa, Montanari, Christian, Meringolo, Maria, Contu, Laura, Celentano, Michele and Badiani, Aldo (2019) Heroin versus cocaine: opposite choice as a function of context but not of drug history in the rat. Psychopharmacology, 236 (2). pp. 787-798. ISSN 0033-3158

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Previous studies have shown that rats trained to self-administer heroin and cocaine exhibit opposite preferences, as a function of setting, when tested in a choice paradigm. Rats tested at home prefer heroin to cocaine whereas rats tested outside the home prefer cocaine to heroin. Here we investigated whether drug history would influence subsequent drug preference in distinct settings. Based on a theoretical model of drug-setting interaction, we predicted that regardless of drug history rats would prefer heroin at home and cocaine outside the home.

Rats with double-lumen catheters were first trained to self-administer either heroin (25 μg/kg) or cocaine (400 μg/kg) for 12 consecutive sessions. Twenty-six rats were housed in the self-administration chambers (thus, they were tested at home) whereas 30 rats lived in distinct home cages and were transferred to self-administration chambers only for the self-administration session (thus, they were tested outside the home). The rats were then allowed to choose repeatedly between heroin and cocaine within the same session for 7 sessions.

Regardless of the training drug, the rats tested outside the home preferred cocaine to heroin whereas the rats tested at home preferred heroin to cocaine. There was no correlation between drug preference and drug intake during the training phase.

Drug preferences were powerfully influenced by the setting but, quite surprisingly, not by drug history. This suggests that, under certain conditions, associative learning processes and drug-induced neuroplastic adaptations play a minor role in shaping individual preferences for one drug or the other.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Drug addiction; drug abuse; drug dependence; environment; context; self-administration; drug choice; psychostimulants; opiates; opioids
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Neuroscience
Depositing User: Sanjeedah Choudhury
Date Deposited: 21 May 2019 09:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2019 02:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/83879

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