The effects of acute corticosterone on lithium chloride-induced conditioned place aversion and locomotor activity in rats

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Abstract

Acute administration of corticosterone (CORT) facilitates learning in a number of associative paradigms including lithium chloride (LiCl)-induced conditioned taste aversion learning. The present study examined the effects of acute CORT on LiCl-induced conditioned place aversions in male rats. Automated open-fields were partitioned into two chambers distinct in tactile and visual cues. Animals received either LiCl (64 mg/kg, 0.15 M) or saline (NaCl, 0.15 M) followed 10 min later by either CORT (5 mg/kg) or β-cyclodextrin vehicle (45%) prior to placement in one of the chambers. Control rats received NaCl-Vehicle paired with both chambers. Three experimental groups received either NaCl-CORT, LiCl-Vehicle or LiCl-CORT paired with the preferred chamber and NaCl-Vehicle (control) paired with the non-preferred chamber. During extinction trials, animals were allowed to choose between the two chambers. Locomotor activity and its distribution within the chambers were assessed during both conditioning and extinction trials. CORT administration produced significant increases in a variety of measures of locomotor activity during conditioning trials. During extinction trials both LiCl groups displayed a conditioned place aversion while the NaCl-CORT group did not. In addition, significant increases in vertical activity were recorded in both LiCl groups in the LiCl-paired chamber. Moreover, CORT administration had no effect on LiCl-induced conditioned place aversion as time spent in the LiCl-paired chamber did not significantly differ between LiCl-Vehicle and LiCl-CORT groups. Significant increases in a number of measures of horizontal activity were also observed in both CORT groups. The present study shows that acute CORT administration does not significantly influence LiCl-induced conditioned place aversions and suggests that the facilitatory effects of acute CORT administration on learning are highly context-dependent.

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