Competition Between the Conditioned Rewarding Effects of Cocaine and Novelty

Carmela M. Reichel, Rick A. Bevins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Access to novelty might provide an alternative learning history that competes with conditioned drug reward. We tested this suggestion in rats using a place conditioning procedure with cocaine and novelty. In Experiment 1, rats were conditioned with cocaine to prefer one side of an apparatus. In a subsequent phase, cocaine exposure continued; however, on the unpaired side, separate group of rats had access to novel objects, cocaine injections, or saline with no objects. Pairings with novel objects or cocaine shifted a preference away from the cocaine-paired environment during drug-free and drug-challenge tests. Experiment 2 tested novelty's impact when cocaine exposure was discontinued. The identical procedures were used except drug exposure ceased on the cocaine-paired side during the second phase. Both groups expressed a preference for the cocaine compartment. This preference was maintained for rats that did not have novel objects; however, rats that experienced novelty spent similar amounts of time in both compartments during both tests. Overall, the conditioned rewarding effects of novelty competed with those of cocaine as evidenced by a change in choice behaviors motivated by drug reward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-150
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • conditioned place preference
  • natural rewards
  • novelty seeking
  • reward competition
  • sensation seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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