Progesterone attenuates impulsive action in a Go/No-Go task for sucrose pellets in female and male rats

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Impulsivity, or a tendency to act without anticipation of future consequences, is associated with drug abuse. Impulsivity is typically separated into two main measures, impulsive action and impulsive choice. Given the association of impulsivity and drug abuse, treatments that reduce impulsivity have been proposed as an effective method for countering drug addiction. Progesterone has emerged as a promising treatment, as it is associated with decreased addiction-related behaviors and impulsive action. The goal of the present study was to determine the effects of progesterone (PRO) on impulsive action for food: a Go/No-Go task. Female and male rats responded for sucrose pellets during a Go component when lever pressing was reinforced on a variable-interval 30-s schedule. During the alternate No-Go component, withholding a lever press was reinforced on a differential reinforcement of other (DRO) behavior 30-s schedule, where a lever press reset the DRO timer. Impulsive action was operationally defined as the inability to withhold a response during the No-Go component (i.e. the number of DRO resets). Once Go/No-Go behavior was stable, responding between rats treated with PRO (0.5 mg/kg) or vehicle was examined. Progesterone significantly decreased the total number of DRO resets in both males and females, but it did not affect VI responding for sucrose pellets. This suggests that PRO decreases motor impulsivity for sucrose pellets without affecting motivation for food. Thus, PRO may reduce motor impulsivity, a behavior underlying drug addiction.

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