Passive exposure to a contextual discriminative stimulus reinstates cocaine-seeking behavior in rats

Andrea T. Alleweireldt, Suzanne M. Weber, Janet Neisewander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


A significant problem in treating cocaine dependence is craving-induced relapse elicited by inadvertent (i.e., passive) exposure to cocaine-paired stimuli. Extinction/reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior in animals has been used to investigate this phenomenon. Most studies using this model have examined reinstatement by response-contingent exposure to discrete cocaine-paired stimuli. The present study expanded this research by examining passive (i.e., not contingent upon an operant response) exposure to a contextual cocaine-paired stimulus to better model craving elicited by inadvertent exposure to cocaine-associated environmental stimuli. Rats underwent daily cocaine and saline self-administration sessions that were identical to each other except for a discriminative stimulus (scented bedding) signaling cocaine availability (S+) or nonavailability (S-). Subsequently, they were placed into the self-administration chambers in the presence of neutral bedding. Reinforcement was not available and cocaine-seeking behavior (i.e., nonreinforced operant responses) was extinguished across days. Rats were then reintroduced to the S+ and S- stimuli. Presentation of the S+, but not the S-, elicited significant reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior. The results demonstrate that passive exposure to a contextual discriminative stimulus reinstates extinguished cocaine-seeking behavior. Furthermore, we suggest that reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior by passive exposure to cocaine-paired stimuli may provide a model of craving-induced relapse elicited by inadvertent exposure to a cocaine-associated environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-560
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 29 2001



  • Cocaine
  • Cocaine-conditioned
  • Cocaine-paired cue
  • Contextual stimulus
  • Discriminative stimulus
  • Drug abuse
  • Extinction
  • Rat
  • Reinstatement
  • Relapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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