Drug reinforcement studied by the use of place conditioning in rat

Brain Res. 1982 Jul 8;243(1):91-105. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(82)91123-4.


Rats display a preference for an environment in which they previously received morphine. The present report provides behavioral and pharmacological data for this simple model of reinforcement produced by opiates and describes an aversion in rats for an environment in which they previously received naloxone. Preferences were produced with intravenous (i.v.) morphine sulfate at doses of 0.08-15 mg/kg and durations of the pairing between environment and morphine of 10 min to 1.5 h. Preferences were also seen with other opiate agonists (etorphine-HCl and levorphanol-tartrate), another route of drug administration (subcutaneous), and after 1-4 administrations of morphine. Cocaine-HCl (i.v.), a non-narcotic drug, known to be self-administered by humans, also produced a place preference. Lithium chloride (i.v.), an agent found to be a punishing stimulus in other situations, produced a place aversion. There was no appreciable preference for an environment paired with dextrorphan-tartrate and naloxone-HCl (2 mg/kg, i.p.) blocked the production of the preference produced by i.v. morphine. In contrast to the effect produced by morphine, aversions were produced with (-)-naloxone-HCl alone at doses of 0.1-45 mg/kg (i.v.). The aversion was not produced at (+)-naloxone. Implantation of rats with a 75 mg morphine pellet 3 days prior to place conditioning potentiated the aversive effect of naloxone. It was concluded that place conditioning produced by morphine and naloxone is mediated by specific opiate receptors and that stimulating and decreasing activity of the endogenous opioid peptide system with systemically administered drugs is positively reinforcing and aversive, respectively. The discussion emphasizes application of the simple and sensitive place conditioning model to drug reinforcement research, including analyses of reinforcement produced by microinjection of opiates into the brain.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlorides / pharmacology*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Functional Laterality
  • Lithium / pharmacology*
  • Lithium Chloride
  • Male
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Naloxone / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reinforcement, Psychology / drug effects*


  • Chlorides
  • Naloxone
  • Morphine
  • Lithium
  • Lithium Chloride
  • Cocaine