The importance of a compound stimulus in conditioned drug-seeking behavior following one week of extinction from self-administered cocaine in rats

Drug Alcohol Depend. 1999 Nov 1;57(1):41-9. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(99)00043-5.


Previous studies have demonstrated that conditioned stimuli can increase responding on a drug-associated lever after extinction from drug self-administration. The present study investigated singular stimuli (tone or light) or a compound stimulus (tone + light) for their ability to increase extinguished responding following chronic cocaine self-administration. Rats self-administered cocaine for 2 weeks on a fixed ratio (FR1) schedule of reinforcement, in which lever responding resulted in varied presentation of a tone, light, or tone + light combination. The rats were then exposed to 1 week of daily extinction sessions. Presentation of the tone + light on day 8 of extinction in the absence of cocaine reinforcement resulted in a significant increase in responding, while either stimulus component alone was much weaker or failed to produce any changes from extinction rates of responding. In addition, changing the duration of the single elements of the compound did not affect the magnitude of increased responding to the compound. Following three final extinction sessions, robust lever responding for cocaine infusions on day 12 of extinction was seen across all groups. These findings suggest that compound stimuli may be critical to fully activate drug-seeking behavior in conditions of craving and relapse following prolonged extinction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Cocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Self Administration / statistics & numerical data


  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine