Cocaine's Effects on Food-Reinforced Pecking in Pigeons Depend on Food-Deprivation Level

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Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior






Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

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Four pigeons deprived to 80% of their laboratory free-feeding weights pecked keys under a multiple fixed-ratio 30 fixed-interval 5-min schedule of food presentation. Components alternated strictly with 15-s timeouts separating them; each was presented six times. When rates of pecking were stable, 2 pigeons' weights were reduced to 70%, and the other 2 pigeons' weights were increased to 82.5% to 85% of free-feeding levels. Cocaine (1.0, 3.0, 5.6, and 10.0 mg/kg and saline) was administered 5 min prior to sessions. When each dose had been tested twice, pigeons' weights were adjusted to the level that they had not yet experienced, and cocaine was tested again. Cocaine reduced response rates in a dose-dependent manner under the fixed-ratio schedule and under the fixed-interval schedule at high doses, and increased rates under the fixed-interval schedule at low low doses. Reductions in pecking rates occurred at lower doses under both schedules in 3 of 4 pigeons when they were less food deprived compared to when they were more food deprived. Low doses of cocaine increased low baseline rates of pecking in the initial portions of the fixed-interval schedules by a greater magnitude when pigeons were more food deprived. Thus, food-deprivation levels altered both the rate-decreasing and rate-increasing effects of cocaine. The implications of these results for the mechanisms by which food deprivation increases cocaine self-administration and for the dependence of cocaine's effects on the baseline strength of operant behavior are discussed.


Originally published by the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Publisher's PDF and article fulltext available through remote link.