Social stimuli enhance phencyclidine (PCP) self-administration in rhesus monkeys

Jennifer L. Newman, Jennifer L. Perry, Marilyn E Carroll

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24 Scopus citations


Environmental factors, including social interaction, can alter the effects of drugs of abuse on behavior. The present study was conducted to examine the effects of social stimuli on oral phencyclidine (PCP) self-administration by rhesus monkeys. Ten adult rhesus monkeys (M. mulatta) were housed side by side in modular cages that could be configured to provide visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli provided by another monkey located in the other side of a paired unit. During the first experiment, monkeys self-administered PCP (0.25 mg/ml) and water under concurrent fixed ratio (FR) 16 schedules of reinforcement with either a solid or a grid (social) partition separating each pair of monkeys. In the second experiment, a PCP concentration-response relationship was determined under concurrent progressive ratio (PR) schedules of reinforcement during both the solid and grid partition conditions. Under the concurrent FR 16 schedules, PCP and water self-administration were significantly higher during exposure to a cage mate through a grid partition than when a solid partition separated the monkeys. The relative reinforcing strength of PCP, as measured by PR break points, was greater during the grid partition condition compared to the solid partition condition indicated by an upward shift in the concentration-response curve. To determine whether the social stimuli provided by another monkey led to activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which may have evoked the increase of PCP self-administration during the grid partition condition, a third experiment was conducted to examine cortisol levels under the two housing conditions. A modest, but nonsignificant increase in cortisol levels was found upon switching from the solid to the grid partition condition. The results suggest that social stimulation among monkeys in adjoining cages leads to enhanced reinforcing strength of PCP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-288
Number of pages9
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse grants R01 DA002486-27 and K05 DA015267-06 (MEC) and National Institute on Drug Abuse training grant T32 DA07097-24 (JLN). The authors wish to thank Peter G. Roma for providing expert advice on salivary cortisol collection and analysis.


  • Cortisol
  • Fixed ratio
  • PCP
  • Pair-housing
  • Progressive ratio
  • Rhesus monkey
  • Self-administration
  • Social stimuli


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