Incubation of saccharin craving and within-session changes in responding for a cue previously associated with saccharin

Appetite. 2014 Jan;72:114-22. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.10.003. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Conditioning, Operant*
  • Cues
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Energy Intake*
  • Extinction, Psychological*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Saccharin / administration & dosage*
  • Saccharin / pharmacology
  • Self Administration
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacology


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Saccharin