Rat ultrasonic vocalizations demonstrate that the motivation to contextually reinstate cocaine-seeking behavior does not necessarily involve a hedonic response

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Abstract

Human self-reports often indicate that changes in mood are a major contributor to drug relapse. Still, arguments have been made that instances of drug-seeking following abstinence in animal models (i.e. relapse/reinstatement) may be outside of hedonic control. Therefore, the present study utilized ultrasonic vocalizations in the rat in order to evaluate affect during cocaine self-administration and contextual reinstatement of cocaine-seeking in a pre-clinical model of drug relapse (abstinence-reinstatement model). Results show that while subjects effectively reinstated drug-seeking (lever pressing) following 30 days of abstinence, and spontaneously recovered/reinstated drug-seeking following 60 days of abstinence, ultrasonic vocalizations did not increase over baseline levels during either reinstatement session. These results are consistent with previous results from our laboratory and current theories of addiction suggesting that cues that are weakly associated with drug consumption can motivate drug-seeking behavior that is outside of hedonic processing.

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