Influence of novel versus home environments on sensitization to the psychomotor stimulant effects of cocaine and amphetamine

Brain Res. 1995 Mar 20;674(2):291-8. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(95)00028-o.


The acute psychomotor response (rotational behavior in rats with a unilateral 6-OHDA lesion), and the development of sensitization, were studied in rats that received seven consecutive daily injections of amphetamine (Experiment 1) or cocaine (Experiment 2) either at home or in a 'novel' test environment. The home (HOME) and novel (NOVEL) cages were physically identical, but one group lived and was tested in these cages, whereas the rats in the other group were transported from the stainless steel hanging cages where they lived, to those NOVEl test cages, for each test session. In Exp. 1, the acute psychomotor response to 3.0 mg/kg of amphetamine i.p. and the development of sensitization (increase in the rotational response between the first and the the seventh test session) were greater in the NOVEL than in the HOME environment. In Expt. 2, there were no significant group differences in the acute response to 20 mg/kg of cocaine i.p., but the animals tested in the NOVEL environment showed greater sensitization than animals tested in the HOME environment. In addition, the animals pretreated with cocaine in the NOVEL environment, but not those pretreated with cocaine in the HOME environment, showed conditioned rotational behavior in response to an injection of saline. These data indicate that: (i) sensitization to the psychomotor activating effects of both amphetamine and cocaine is enhanced in a NOVEL environment; (ii) this phenomenon appears to the independent of the effects of the NOVEL environment on the acute response to these drugs; (iii) a robust conditioned psychomotor response to contextual cues develops only when cocaine treatments are given in the NOVEL test environment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Environment*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Oxidopamine / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rotation
  • Stimulation, Chemical


  • Oxidopamine
  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Apomorphine

Grants and funding