Pavlovian conditioned approach, extinction, and spontaneous recovery to an audiovisual cue paired with an intravenous heroin infusion

J. Peters, T.J. de Vries

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale: Novel stimuli paired with exposure to addictive drugs can elicit approach through Pavlovian learning. While such approach behavior, or sign tracking, has been documented for cocaine and alcohol, it has not been shown to occur with opiate drugs like heroin. Most Pavlovian conditioned approach paradigms use an operandum as the sign, so that sign tracking can be easily automated. Objectives: We were interested in assessing whether approach behavior occurs to an audiovisual cue paired with an intravenous heroin infusion. If so, would this behavior exhibit characteristics of other Pavlovian conditioned behaviors, such as extinction and spontaneous recovery? Methods: Rats were repeatedly exposed to an audiovisual cue, similar to that used in standard self-administration models, along with an intravenous heroin infusion. Sign tracking was measured in an automated fashion by analyzing motion pixels within the cue zone during each cue presentation. Results: We were able to observe significant sign tracking after only five pairings of the conditioned stimulus (CS) with the unconditioned stimulus (US). This behavior rapidly extinguished over 2 days, but exhibited pronounced spontaneous recovery 3 weeks later. Conclusions: We conclude that sign tracking measured by these methods exhibits all the characteristics of a classically conditioned behavior. This model can be used to examine the Pavlovian component of drug memories, alone, or in combination with self-administration methods. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-453
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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