Time-dependent increases in cue-induced sucrose seeking after forced abstinence have been described in rats with a history of sucrose self-administration, suggesting sucrose craving "incubates". In the present study, we examined whether the incubation of craving generalizes to the artificial sweetener, saccharin. Thirty-one male Long-Evans rats lever pressed for 0.3% saccharin solution 1h/day for 10 days. On either Day 1 or 30 of forced abstinence, rats responded for 1h for presentation of a tone+light cue previously presented with every saccharin delivery during self-administration training. Rats responded more during this cue-reactivity test session following 30 vs. 1 day of forced abstinence ("incubation of craving"). This result is the first demonstration of the "incubation of saccharin craving" and suggests that a post-ingestive caloric consequence of self-administration is not a necessary condition for the development of incubation of sucrose craving. We also examined the time course (within-session decreases) of active-lever responding during the 1-h cue-reactivity test session. Rats in the Day 30 group responded more than rats in the Day 1 group from the beginning of the test session. In addition, within-session decreases in responding were shallower in slope in the Day 30 than the Day 1 group. These results indicate that "incubation of saccharin craving" enhances the persistence of seeking behavior.
Keywords: Addiction; Craving; Incubation; Regression; Saccharin; Sucrose.
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