Determinants of Cocaine Self-Administration by Laboratory Animals

  1. Gregory R. Bock Organizer and
  2. Julie Whelan
  1. William L. Woolverton

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470514245.ch9

Ciba Foundation Symposium 166 - Cocaine: Scientific and Social Dimensions

Ciba Foundation Symposium 166 - Cocaine: Scientific and Social Dimensions

How to Cite

Woolverton, W. L. (2007) Determinants of Cocaine Self-Administration by Laboratory Animals, in Ciba Foundation Symposium 166 - Cocaine: Scientific and Social Dimensions (eds G. R. Bock and J. Whelan), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470514245.ch9

Author Information

  1. Department of Pharmacological & Physiological Sciences, Drug Abuse Research Center, University of Chicago, 947 E 58th Street, Box 271, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471931799

Online ISBN: 9780470514245

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Keywords:

  • cocaine self-administration determination;
  • pharmacological effects;
  • pharmacological determinants;
  • antagonists;
  • response rates

Summary

The reinforcing effect of a drug is that effect that increases the probability that the drug will be self-administered again. Like other drug effects, a reinforcing effect is the result of an interaction between organism, drug and environment. Laboratory research using animal subjects has helped elucidate the contribution of each of these factors to the self-administration of cocaine. A substantial amount of research indicates that increased dopamine neurotransmission in the brain, particularly in mesolimbic and mesocortical regions, plays a major role in cocaine self-administration. Both indirect and direct dopamine agonists can function as positive reinforcers in animals, whereas noradrenergic and serotonergic (5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine) agonists have not been found to do so. In addition, evidence suggests that dopamine but not noradrenaline (norepinephrine) or serotonin antagonists can attenuate the reinforcing effect of cocaine. Environmental factors have also been shown to be critical determinants of the reinforcing effect of cocaine. The schedule of reinforcement essentially determines the rate and pattern of drug-maintained behaviour. In addition, punishing self-administration, increasing the value of alternative reinforcers that are available, and increasing the cost of cocaine have all been shown to decrease the reinforcing effect of cocaine. With regard to organismic factors, recent research has suggested that there are significant genetic determinants of cocaine consumption. Taken together these research findings in animals imply that certain individuals may be more sensitive to the reinforcing effect of cocaine but that cocaine abuse can be decreased by pharmacological or behavioural means or by a combination of the two.