, Volume 153, Issue 1, pp 17–30

Second-order schedules of drug reinforcement in rats and monkeys: measurement of reinforcing efficacy and drug-seeking behaviour

  • Barry J. Everitt
  • Trevor W. Robbins

DOI: 10.1007/s002130000566

Cite this article as:
Everitt, B. & Robbins, T. Psychopharmacology (2000) 153: 17. doi:10.1007/s002130000566


Rationale and objectives: To review the literature on the use of second-order schedules of drug reinforcement in the context of experimental investigations of the neural and pharmacological mechanisms underlying addictive behaviour in general and drug-seeking behaviour in particular. Methods: Second-order schedules of drug reinforcement are described in which responding is maintained not only by the self-administered drug, but also by contingent presentation of drug-paired stimuli that serve as conditioned reinforcers of instrumental behaviour. Results: The behaviour of rats and monkeys responding under second-order schedules is discussed in relation to self-administered drug dose and the importance of drug-associated cues in maintaining responding for cocaine, morphine or heroin. Drug-seeking behaviour during the period before drug is self-administered is described and compared with drug-seeking behaviour derived from other procedures. In addition, results are summarised that demonstrate the differential involvement of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex in the acquisition of cue-controlled cocaine- and heroin-seeking behaviour, as well as the effects of drugs interacting with D3 dopamine, NMDA and AMPA receptors on drug-seeking behaviour and dopaminergic correlates of drug-paired stimuli presented non-contingently and during responding for cocaine under a second-order schedule. Conclusions: We argue that the first, drug-free interval (or other period) of responding under a second-order schedule of reinforcement has particular utility in that it provides a measure of drug-seeking behaviour and reinforcing efficacy that are not affected by the pharmacological effects of recently administered drug. It also provides a means of investigating the role of drug-paired stimuli in drug-seeking behaviour, including its behavioural, neural and neurochemical basis.

Addiction Cocaine Heroin Craving Amygdala

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry J. Everitt
    • 1
  • Trevor W. Robbins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK