Cocaine lowers brain reward thresholds, reflecting increased brain reward function. The authors investigated whether, similar to acute cocaine administration, cocaine-predictive conditioned stimuli would lower intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) thresholds. Rats received a saline injection for 5 days, a cocaine injection (10 mg/kg) for 20 consecutive days, then saline for 5 additional days. Thresholds were measured immediately before and 10 min after each injection. The initial 5 saline injections had no effect on thresholds, whereas cocaine significantly lowered thresholds for 20 days. There was no tolerance or sensitization to this effect of cocaine over days. During the last 5 days when cocaine administration was substituted with saline, rats demonstrated a conditioned lowering of thresholds during the 2nd daily ICSS session. These data demonstrate that cocaine-predictive conditioned stimuli induce a conditioned facilitation of brain reward function.
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