Impulsivity predicts the escalation of cocaine self-administration in rats

Justin J. Anker, Jennifer L. Perry, Luke A. Gliddon, Marilyn E. Carroll

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149 Scopus citations


Impulsivity, as measured by the delay-discounting task, predicts the acquisition of cocaine self-administration and reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats. The purpose of this study was to extend these results to the escalation phase of drug self-administration. Female rats were initially screened for high (HiI) or low (LoI) impulsivity for food reinforcement using a delay-discounting procedure. They were then implanted with i.v. catheters and trained to lever press for cocaine infusions (0.8 mg/kg). Once cocaine intake stabilized, rats were allowed to self-administer cocaine (0.4 mg/kg) under a fixed-ratio 1 (FR 1) schedule during three, 2 h short-access sessions. Subsequently, performance was briefly assessed under a progressive ratio (PR) schedule for 3 doses of cocaine (0.2, 0.8, and 3.2 mg/kg). Following PR testing, the cocaine dose was then changed to 0.4 mg/kg. Session length was then extended to 6 h for 21 days (extended access), and 0.4 mg/kg cocaine was available under a FR 1 schedule. After the 21-day extended access phase, responses and infusions under the short access FR and PR dose-response conditions were reassessed. The results indicated that HiI rats escalated cocaine-reinforced responding during the extended access condition, but LoI rats did not. HiI rats also earned significantly more infusions than LoI rats under the post-escalation short access FR condition. However, HiI and LoI rats did not differ under the pre- and post-extended access PR conditions. This study suggests that individual differences in impulsivity predict escalation of cocaine self-administration in female rats, which may have implications in the prediction of binge-like patterns of cocaine intake in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-348
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, R01 DA 003240-25, K05 015267-07 (MEC) and F31 DA 023301-02 (JJA). The authors would like to thank Nathan Holtz, Emily Kidd, Amy Saykao, Matthew Starr, and Natalie Zlebnik.


  • Cocaine
  • Delay discounting
  • Escalation
  • Impulsivity
  • Rats


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