Sex differences in non-reinforced responding for cocaine

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2008;34(4):473-88. doi: 10.1080/00952990802082206.


Prior studies report no sex differences in cocaine consumption during maintenance of self-administration. We find female rats show poorer lever discrimination during acquisition of self-administration. Now, we test whether female rats show greater non-reinforced or ineffective responding (presses during infusion and time-out periods as well as inactive lever presses) than male rats during maintenance of cocaine self-administration (.0625-1.0 mg/kg/infusion) in Experiment 1. Persistence of responding during extinction when saline-replaced cocaine was also examined. Whether response differences reflect sex differences in movements under a non-drug condition was tested in Experiment 2. Because cocaine may affect lever press rates differentially between sexes, we examined the effects of cocaine (.3-30 mg/kg; IP) on responding for food in Experiment 3. Cocaine consumption does not differ between female and male rats. However, females respond more during infusion and time-out periods and during extinction than males. There is no sex difference in movements and high cocaine doses decrease responding for food more in female vs. male rats. That females engage in more ineffective responding may represent heightened "craving" and cannot be explained by increased movements or cocaine-stimulated increases in lever pressing. In contrast, responding for cocaine in males appears driven by drug delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catheters, Indwelling
  • Cocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Female
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Locomotion
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Self Administration
  • Sex Factors


  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Cocaine