Effects of prior cocaine self-administration on cognitive performance in female cynomolgus monkeys

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 Jun;232(11):2007-16. doi: 10.1007/s00213-015-3865-6. Epub 2015 Jan 31.


Cocaine use has been associated with cognitive impairments that may contribute to poor treatment outcomes. However, the degree to which these deficits extend into periods of abstinence has not been completely elucidated. This study tested whether prior experience self-administering cocaine affected acquisition of two cognitive tasks in 16 adult female cynomolgus monkeys. Seven monkeys had previously self-administered cocaine but had not had access to cocaine for 2 months at the start of this study. After monkeys were trained to respond on a touchscreen, associative learning and behavioral flexibility were assessed using a stimulus discrimination (SD) and reversal (SDR) task from the CANTAB battery. Performance on this task was monitored over the subsequent 3 months. Additionally, working memory was assessed with a delayed match-to-sample (DMS) task. Cocaine-naïve monkeys required fewer total trials and made fewer errors and omissions before acquiring the SD and SDR tasks compared with monkeys who had previously self-administered cocaine; two monkeys in the latter group did not acquire the task. However, this cognitive impairment dissipated over several months of exposure to the task. The number of sessions for touch training and delays required to establish a performance-based curve on the DMS task did not differ between groups. Results suggest that cocaine exposure can impair the ability to learn a novel task requiring behavioral inhibition and flexibility, even after an extended period of abstinence. However, this deficit did not extend to maintenance of the task or to acquisition of a working memory task.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Learning / drug effects*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects*
  • Recurrence
  • Self Administration


  • Cocaine