, Volume 226, Issue 1, pp 139–146

Latent vulnerability in cognitive performance following chronic cocaine self-administration in rhesus monkeys

  • Jessica N. Porter
  • Kate Gurnsey
  • Hank P. Jedema
  • Charles W. Bradberry
Original Investigation



Cocaine use is associated with cognitive impairment which impacts treatment outcome. A clearer understanding of those deficits, and whether particular environments exacerbate them, is needed.


This study evaluated whether previously observed domain-specific cognitive deficits persisted following a 3-month cessation from chronic cocaine self-administration, as well as the impact of novel and cocaine-associated attentional distractors.


Control and experimental groups of monkeys performed stimulus discrimination, stimulus reversal, and delayed match-to-sample (DMS) tasks. After establishing post-cocaine baseline performance, we examined general distractibility in both groups, using brief novel distractors counterbalanced across each task. After testing the novel distractor, an identical approach was used for exposure to an appetitive distractor previously associated with cocaine in the experimental group or water in the control group.


Post-administration baseline performance was equivalent between groups on all tasks. In the cocaine group, stimulus discrimination was unaffected by either distractor, whereas reversal performance was disrupted by both the novel and appetitive distractors. DMS performance was impaired in the cocaine group in the presence of the novel distractor. The control group's performance was not affected by the presentation of either distractor on any task.


Our results reveal that despite normalized performance between groups, there exists in the cocaine group a domain-specific latent vulnerability of cognitive performance to impairment by environmental distractors. The pattern of vulnerability recapitulates the frank impairments seen in drug-free animals during an active self-administration phase. A greater impact of the cocaine-associated distractor over the novel one was not observed.


Cocaine Chronic Self-administration Reversal Cognition Macaque Cue Attention Attentional control Distractor 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica N. Porter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kate Gurnsey
    • 4
  • Hank P. Jedema
    • 4
  • Charles W. Bradberry
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for NeuroscienceUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Center for the Neural Basis of CognitionUniversity of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  5. 5.VA Pittsburgh Health ServicesPittsburghUSA

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