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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cocaine effects on behavioral responding to a novel object placed in a familiar environment.

It is well established that cocaine stimulant effects are potentiated in a novel environment. The relationship between cocaine and novel stimuli, however, remains poorly understood. In this study, we examined the effects of different dose levels of cocaine (5.0, 10.0 and 20.0 mg/kg) administered to separate groups of rats (N=10) on attentional behavior to a small novel object stimulus placed within a central zone (CZ) of a familiar open-field environment. This method has been used to assess attentional function in young animals, brain damaged animals and drug treated animals. In previous studies, we have shown that attention to a novel object stimulus can be quantified by an animal's contact time with the object. Following a series of pre-exposures to the test environment without the novel object, we found that cocaine in a brief 10 min test session with the novel object present produced a dose related decrease in mean contact time with the novel object. In contrast caffeine (5.0, 10.0 and 20.0 mg/kg), which induced a locomotor stimulant effect equivalent to cocaine, did not impair novel object contact time. Correlational analyses indicated absence of significant negative correlation coefficients of locomotor activity and contact time with the novel object. These considerations indicate that the observed cocaine impairment of attention to the novel stimulus is not attributable to hyperactivity per-se. Furthermore, cocaine, but not caffeine, induced a dose related decrease in the duration of spontaneous grooming. Thus, cocaine appears to diminish an animal's overall capability to maintain a behavioral process (i.e., investigate a novel object stimulus and/or engage in spontaneous bodily directed activity such as grooming). Altogether, the findings obtained in the present study indicate that cocaine impairs an animal's ability to sustain attention to stimuli and suggest a behavioral state analogous to an attention deficit disorder.[1]


  1. Cocaine effects on behavioral responding to a novel object placed in a familiar environment. Carey, R.J., Damianopoulos, E.N., Shanahan, A.B. Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. (2008) [Pubmed]
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