Reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior produced by heroin-predictive environmental stimuli

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1997 May;131(1):86-92. doi: 10.1007/s002130050269.


The current study examined whether stimuli predictive of heroin availability were capable of inducing a relapse of drug-seeking behavior in an operant runway task. Olfactory stimuli (orange and almond food extract) served as discriminative cues about the availability (S+) or unavailability (S-) of heroin reinforcement (a single 0.1 mg/kg IV infusion) in the goal box of a straight arm runway. Following discrimination training, the running response was extinguished in the absence of the olfactory cues. On a single trial, the discriminative stimuli were then tested for their ability to reinstate running behavior prior to presentation of the heroin reinforcer. Subjects presented with the S+ on test day took significantly less time to traverse the alley than they did on the final day of extinction, while those subjects presented with the S- on test day continued to run slowly. These results demonstrate, in an animal model of drug self-administration, that environmental discriminative cues can produce a relapse in drug seeking behavior following a period of abstinence. The response-reinstating properties of the S+ odor were unaltered by pretreatment with any of three doses of haloperidol (0.0, 0.15 or 0.3 mg/kg IP), suggesting that the motivating properties of heroin-predictive stimuli or cues remain intact during dopamine receptor antagonism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Heroin / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Substance-Related Disorders*


  • Heroin