, Volume 122, Issue 4, pp 346-350

Haloperidol differentially affects reinforcement and motivational processes in rats running an alley for intravenous heroin

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The role of drug-paired environmental stimuli in opiate self-administration was investigated by exposing animals to discrete cues that were predictive of the availability or unavailability of heroin reinforcement. Rats were trained to traverse a straight arm runway for a reinforcement consisting of a single 0.1 mg/kg intravenous infusion of heroin delivered upon entrance to the goal box. On each trial, one of two discriminative olfactory stimuli (orange and almond) was used: one which signaled the availability of heroin in the goal box (S+), and one which signaled its absence (S−). The effect of dopamine (DA) receptor antagonism on reinforcement and motivational processes was investigated by pretreating subjects with 0.0, 0.15 or 0.30 mg/kg of the DA receptor antagonist drug, haloperidol. Haloperidol had no effect on operant runway performance (i.e. goal time) in any condition. However, 24 h later, on the first post-treatment trial, those haloperidol animals that received heroin in the goal box on the previous trial (i.e. the S+ condition) ran reliably more slowly than subjects that received vehicle on the previous S+ trial. These results suggest that haloperidol does not affect the motivational properties of stimuli which predict the availability of heroin, while it does diminish the reinforcing effects of actually receiving heroin.