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Psychopharmacology

, Volume 146, Issue 4, pp 400–412 | Cite as

Serotonin and tolerance to delay of reward in rats

  • J.-C. Bizot
  • C. Le Bihan
  • A. J. Puech
  • M. Hamon
  • M.-H. Thiébot
Original Investigation

Abstract 

Rationale: Tolerance to delay of gratification, taken to reflect impulsiveness, has been proposed to be under the preferential control of central serotonin (5-HT) processes. Objective: The present study further examined the effects of drugs which directly or indirectly alter 5-HT transmission, on behaviour controlled by a delayed positive reinforcer. Methods: Rats were given the choice in a T-maze between two magnitudes of reward: small (two food pellets) and immediate versus large (ten pellets) but delayed. When a 15-s waiting period was imposed in the arm leading to the large reward, rats selected this arm on 65–70% of the trials. This frequency was reduced to less than 40% when the large reward was delayed by 25 s. Results: In rats whose ascending 5-HT pathways had been lesioned by infusion of 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT) into the dorsal raphe, the introduction of the 15-s delay contingency resulted in a transient larger reduction of the frequency of choice of the now-delayed reward, compared to sham operated controls. In contrast, choice behaviour of rats given 5,7-DHT into the substantia nigra did not differ from controls. para-Chlorophenylalanine (pCPA, 150 mg/kg IP, daily for 3 days), a 5-HT synthesis inhibitor, bretazenil (0.5-8 mg/kg IP), a benzodiazepine (BZD) receptor partial agonist, and muscimol (0.25-1 mg/kg IP), a GABAA receptor agonist, induced a shift toward immediate reward. In contrast to the other BZDs, alprazolam (1–2 mg/kg IP) enhanced the frequency of choice of the large-but-25 s-delayed reward. Similar increased preference for the large-but-delayed reward was induced by the selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitors, fluoxetine (4–8 mg/kg IP) and fluvoxamine (4 mg/kg IP). The full 5-HT1A receptor agonist, 8-OH-DPAT (0.015–0.5 mg/kg IP) enhanced the frequency of choice of the large reward delayed by 25 s, whereas the partial agonists, buspirone (1–4 mg/kg IP), ipsapirone (0.5–1 mg/kg IP) and MDL 73005EF (1–2 mg/kg SC), and the antagonist, WAY 100635 (4 mg/kg SC), reduced the number of choices of the large reward delayed by 15 s. Unexpectedly, WAY 100635 (2 mg/kg), which had no effect on choice whatever the delay, did not counteract the increased tolerance to delay induced by 8-OH-DPAT (0.06 mg/kg) and further reduced the frequency of choice of the large-but- 15 s-delayed reward induced by ipsapirone (0.5 mg/kg). Conclusions: These effects on tolerance to delay may be accounted for by a subtle balance between the opposing functional consequences of pre- versus post-synaptic 5-HT1A receptor activation or blockade. Overall, the present results provide further support to the idea that 5-HT processes participate in the control of impulsive-related behaviour, as assessed from tolerance to delay of reward in this particular T-maze procedure.

Key words Benzodiazepine Delay of reward Impulse control Muscimol pCPA Rat Serotonin Serotonin reuptake inhibitors 5-HT1A receptor ligands 5,7-DHT 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • J.-C. Bizot
    • 1
  • C. Le Bihan
    • 2
  • A. J. Puech
    • 2
  • M. Hamon
    • 3
  • M.-H. Thiébot
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, DGA/ETCA/CEB, BP 3, F-91710 Vert-le-Petit, FranceFR
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology, Faculté de Médecine Pitié-Salp^etrière, 91 Boulevard de l’Hôpital, F-75634 Paris Cedex 13, FranceFR
  3. 3.INSERM U.288, Faculté de Médecine Pitié-Salp^etrière, 91 Boulevard de l’Hôpital, F-75634 Paris Cedex 13, France e-mail: thiebot@ext.jussieu.fr, Fax: +33-1-40-77-97-04FR

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