A rodent “self-report” measure of methamphetamine craving? Rat ultrasonic vocalizations during methamphetamine self-administration, extinction, and reinstatement

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Abstract

Rats emit ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in a variety of contexts, and it is increasingly clear that USVs reflect more complex information than mere positive and negative affect states. We sought to examine USVs in a common model of addiction and relapse, the self-administration/reinstatement paradigm, in order to gain insight into subjective states experienced by rats during various types of methamphetamine seeking. We measured three subtypes of “50 kHz” USVs [flats, trills, and non-trill frequency modulated (FM) USVs], as well as long and short duration “22 kHz” USVs, during self-administration and extinction training, and during reinstatement elicited by cues, a methamphetamine prime, cues + prime, or the pharmacological stressor yohimbine. During self-administration and extinction, rats emitted many flats and FMs, (and short duration “22 kHz” USVs on day 1 of self-administration), but few trills. In contrast, methamphetamine priming injections potently enhanced FMs and trills, and trill production was correlated with the degree of methamphetamine + cue-elicited reinstatement. Cues alone yielded increases only in flat USVs during reinstatement, though a subset of rats displaying strong cue-induced reinstatement also emitted long duration, aversion-related “22 kHz” USVs. Although yohimbine administration caused reinstatement, it did not induce “22 kHz” USVs in methamphetamine-experienced or methamphetamine-naïve rats (unlike footshock stress, which did induce long duration “22 kHz” USVs). These findings demonstrate heterogeneity of rat USVs emitted during different types of methamphetamine seeking, and highlight their potential usefulness for gaining insight into the subjective states of rats in rodent models of drug addiction and relapse.

HIGHLIGHTS

▸ Rat ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) were measured during methamphetamine seeking.

HIGHLIGHTS

▸ Reinstatement elicited more high frequency USVs than other behaviors.

HIGHLIGHTS

▸ Different types of reinstatement elicited different types of USVs.

HIGHLIGHTS

▸ “22 kHz” USVs were not elicited by a pharmacological stressor.

HIGHLIGHTS

▸ USVs contain complex information, and are a useful measure for addiction studies.

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