Sexually conditioned incentives: attenuation of motivational impact during dopamine receptor antagonism

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002 May;72(1-2):65-72. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(01)00732-8.


The motivational impact of sexually conditioned incentives was examined in two experiments. In Experiment 1, male Long-Evans rats copulated to ejaculation in the presence of one of two scents (orange or almond extract) on five separate occasions. On alternating days, subjects spent an equal amount of time in social isolation with the opposing scent. Following the 10-day conditioning regimen, subjects ran more rapidly down an operant runway toward a goalbox containing the sex-paired scent (CS+) compared to trials on which the isolation-paired scent (CS-) or no scent was provided. In Experiment 2, comparably conditioned male rats were first given a baseline runway trial with an unscented goalbox. The following day, subjects were pretreated with one of four doses of haloperidol (0.0, 0.075, 0.15, or 0.30 mg/kg i.p.) 45 min prior to being tested in the runway for their motivation to approach either the CS+ or CS- scents. Control subjects given vehicle injections performed comparably to subjects from Experiment 1, taking significantly less time to approach the CS+ than an unscented goalbox. This decrease in run latency was not observed in subjects within the 0.075 and 0.15 mg/kg haloperidol groups. Subjects in the 0.30 mg/kg haloperidol groups took significantly more time to approach both the CS+ and CS- compared to their baseline run times. These data reveal that an olfactory cue associated with sexual reward becomes a conditioned incentive capable of eliciting approach behavior, and that dopamine receptor antagonism (at moderate but not high doses) selectively attenuates this cue-induced motivation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Receptors, Dopamine / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology


  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine