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Examining persistence of acute environmental enrichment-induced anti-sucrose craving effects in rats

Grimm, Jeffrey W., Hyde, Jeff, Glueck, Edwin, North, Katherine, Ginder, Darren, Jiganti, Kyle, Hopkins, Madeleine, Sauter, Frances, MacDougall, Derek, Hovander, Dan
Appetite 2019 v.139 pp. 50-58
acute exposure, craving, environmental enrichment, rats, sucrose
A single, overnight (acute) environmental enrichment (EE; a large environment with conspecifics and novel objects) experience robustly decreases sucrose consumption (taking) and responsiveness to sucrose-paired cues (seeking) in rats. Persisting effects of acute EE on sucrose seeking and taking have not yet been identified. In the present study, rats were trained to self-administer a 10% sucrose solution paired with a compound tone + light stimulus for 10 days in 2-h sessions. We then examined the persistence of acute EE effects at reducing sucrose seeking and taking in a 12-h test immediately following acute EE (Exp. 1), or for 7 days with daily 1-h tests immediately following acute EE, or after a 24-h delay (Exp. 2). We also examined the persistence of acute EE effects on sucrose taking in rats responding on a PR schedule in 7 daily sessions following acute EE (Exp. 3). We found that acute EE was effective at reducing responding for both sucrose and a sucrose-paired cue, persisting throughout the 12-h test (Exp. 1). A reduction in sucrose seeking persisted for 24 h and a reduction in sucrose taking persisted for 72 h following acute EE plus a 24-h delay prior to testing (Exp. 2). Decreased PR responding for sucrose was observed following acute EE; this reduction persisted for 48 h (Exp. 3). These findings indicate that acute exposure to EE has persisting effects at reducing sucrose seeking and taking in rats. Acute EE may have translational value as a non-pharmacological intervention to curb sucrose craving.