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Association between locomotor response to novelty and light reinforcement: sensory reinforcement as a rodent model of sensation seeking

Association between locomotor response to novelty and light reinforcement: sensory reinforcement as a rodent model of sensation seeking

Behavioural Brain Research 230(2): 380-388

The human personality trait of sensation seeking (SS) indicates an attraction to novel sensations and experiences, and is associated with greater likelihood of drug abuse. In rodents, locomotor activity in a novel environment (Loco) has been found to predict drug self-administration (SA), and has been hypothesized to be a translational model of human SS. Previously, we reported (Gancarz et al., 2011) that high responder (HR) animals responded more than low responder (LR) animals to produce a response contingent light onset. The primary goal of this paper was a detailed analysis of the association between Loco and light contingent responding in a large sample of rats (n = 93). Male rats were pre-exposed to dark operant test chambers for ten 30 min sessions and baseline levels of responding (snout poking) were determined. The pre-exposure phase was followed by 6 sessions during which active responding produced a visual sensory reinforcer (VSR; 5 s light onset) according to a variable interval 1 min schedule of reinforcement. After completion of the VSR phase, Loco was tested. The activating effects (total responding) of light were associated with Loco, but the response guiding effects (proportion of active responding) of the light were not. In addition, HR rats habituated more slowly in both the VSR and Loco tests than LR rats. These data indicate that VSR measures aspects of the rodent’s response to novel sensations and experiences that are not detected by Loco. These data provide some evidence for the use of light reinforcement as an animal model of SS.

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Accession: 051675238

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PMID: 22586716

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2012.02.028

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