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Partial extinction of a conditioned context enhances preference for elements previously associated with cocaine but not with chocolate

Orsini, C., Bonito-Oliva, A., Montanari, C., Conversi, D., Cabib, S.
Physiology & behavior 2013 v.120 pp. 1-10
brain, chocolate, cocaine, extinction, mice
Drug-associated stimuli are crucial to reinstatement of drug-seeking after periods of abstinence, representing a central problem in treatment of addiction. The present study investigated the influence of partial extinction of the conditioned context on the expression of conditioned place preference (CPP). Mice of the inbred DBA/2J strain were conditioned with cocaine or chocolate in a context identified by multiple elements (A+B) and subsequently CPP expression was evaluated in a context containing only one element (A or B) or both (A+B). Cocaine- and chocolate-conditioned mice showed CPP in presence of the original compound stimulus. However, cocaine-conditioned mice did not show CPP when tested in A or B context, while chocolate-conditioned mice did show CPP to single element context. After conditioning mice were exposed to extinction training of the context A or B and then tested for CPP 1 and 9days after the end of the extinction (days 9 and 18). Cocaine-conditioned mice showed CPP 9days after extinction while chocolate-conditioned mice were relatively insensitive to the extinction procedure on day 1 after extinction, but they did not show CPP for the partial or the original compound 9days after extinction. Cocaine-conditioned mice not submitted to the extinction training (simple passage of time) or submitted to a Sham-extinction procedure (saline injections and confinement in a new environment) did not show CPP on day 9 or 18. Cocaine-conditioned mice exposed to extinction training showed increased c-Fos expression in several brain areas in comparison to mice exposed to Sham-extinction. The extinction procedure did not specifically reduce behavioral sensitization. The results suggest that extinction training involving only elements of a drug-associated context can result in increased associative strength of those elements.