Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d'Aquitaine (UMR5287)

Aquitaine Institute for Cognitive and Integrative Neuroscience

Université de Bordeaux

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CNRS Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Université de Bordeaux

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Home > Teams > ADDICTEAM (M. CADOR) > Thesis defense

María del Carmen González Marín’s Ph.D, December 17th 2012

by Catherine Le Moine - published on , updated on

Drug addiction can be considered as a chronic brain disease with recurrent relapse during abstinence periods which remains the major problem for the treatment of drug addiction. Using an animal model of drug relapse, it has been shown that a rodent can reinstate a drug-seeking behavior when re-exposed to the drug itself, drug associated cues or stress. In our research group, we assessed the relative contribution of the different properties of cocaine, heroin and nicotine (incentive, discriminative and reinforcing) in food-seeking reinstatement, and in order to dissociate the discriminative from the reinforcing properties, rats were trained to self-administer a non-drug reward (food). We found that: 1) Cocaine and nicotine act as internal stimuli that acquires discriminative control over behavior, since cocaine and nicotine, but not heroin, can reinstate an extinguished food-seeking behavior when this behavior has been previously performed under the effects of cocaine and nicotine respectively. 2) Cocaine- and nicotine-induced reinstatement is independent of the current value of the outcome, which indicates that cocaine and nicotine control the activation of automatic, drug-related habitual behaviors. Then, in order to identify the way drugs of abuse lead to the formation of habits, we also examined the effects of cocaine sensitization at different stages of instrumental training for a food reward after outcome devaluation. We found that, globally, cocaine sensitization does not promote the development of habit-based behaviors. This series of experiments represent a first step in the comparison of automatic processes produced by cocaine and nicotine. If the activation of automatic, habit-based behaviors can be generalized to other drugs of abuse, we could consider that relapse to drug-seeking and drug-taking is partly under the control of automatic processes, which could explain the high probability of relapse, even after extended periods of abstinence and despite the knowledge of the adverse consequences.

Keywords: cocaine, heroin, nicotine, discriminative stimulus properties, habits, reinstatement, outcome devaluation

Jury:Christelle BAUNEZ, DR2 CNRS (Marseille, France)
Aldo BADIANI, PU (Rome, Italy)
Etienne COUTUREAU, CR1 CNRS (Talence, France)
Martine CADOR, DR1 CNRS (Bordeaux, France)