Wheel running as a predictor of cocaine self-administration and reinstatement in female rats

Erin B. Larson, Marilyn E. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Avidity for behaviors mediated by nondrug rewards, such as novelty seeking or intake of sweets or fats, is predictive of enhanced vulnerability to the locomotor-activating and rewarding effects of drugs of abuse. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether avidity for wheel running was predictive of subsequent cocaine-induced locomotor activity, cocaine self-administration, and cocaine-seeking behavior in rats. Rats with high (HiR) and low (LoR) levels of wheel running were selected from an outbred sample of Wistar rats. These rats were first tested for their locomotor response to an acute injection of cocaine (10 mg/kg, i.p.). Subsequently, a multi-phase self-administration procedure was used to examine the effect of wheel running on the maintenance, extinction, and cocaine-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior in HiR and LoR rats. The results indicate no significant differences between HiR and LoR rats in the cocaine-induced stimulation of locomotor activity. During maintenance, HiR rats self-administered more cocaine than LoR rats. While there were no group differences in saline self-administration behavior during extinction, HiR rats showed higher cocaine-induced reinstatement than LoR rats. Rats that were previously high responders to novelty (day 1 in locomotor track) also showed significantly higher reinstatement than low novelty responders. These results suggest that a propensity for wheel running is associated with increased vulnerability for cocaine self-administration and reinstatement and that HiR rats are more motivated than LoR rats to seek cocaine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-600
Number of pages11
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005


  • Cocaine
  • Drug-seeking
  • Female
  • Locomotor
  • Reinstatement
  • Relapse
  • Self-administration
  • Wheel running


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