The Effects of Acquisition Training Schedule on Extinction and Reinstatement of Cocaine Self-Administration in Male Rats

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Partial reinforcement is known to increase resistance to extinction (Rn) relative to training with continuous reinforcement. This phenomenon, referred to as the partial reinforcement extinction effect, is one of the most robust in learning and conditioning studies. Experiment 1 investigated manipulations known to affect the partial reinforcement extinction effect and determined their possible relevance for drug use patterns. Male rats received intravenous cocaine self-administration training under partial reinforcement (FR-10) training or continuous reinforcement (FR-1) conditions with either a low (0.25 mg/kg infusion) or a high cocaine dose (1.00 mg/kg infusion). Animals were placed on an extinction (recurrent nonreward) schedule for 10 days (1-hr sessions) prior to being tested for cue-induced reinstatement (single 2-hr session). Experiment 2 involved acquisition of cocaine self-administration under FR-1 conditions of short training (15 days) or extended training (30 days) with a low dose (0.25 mg/kg infusion) or a medium dose (0.50 mg/kg infusion) of cocaine reward prior to extinction or reinstatement. Experiment 1 showed that rats trained with FR-10-high dose outcomes exhibited greater Rn than the remaining groups. Additionally, FR-10-high dose and FR-10-low dose rats were more likely to return to active drug seeking during the reinstatement test. In Experiment 2, rats trained under FR-1-medium dose conditions were more persistent during extinction following short acquisition training than comparable rats experiencing extended acquisition training. The reinstatement test was conducted following extinction, in which it was observed that overtraining under FR-1-medium dose reward schedules resulted in a decrease in the tendency to return to active drug seeking.

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