Appetitive-aversive counter conditioning in serotonin transporter knockout rats

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Cocaine is the second most used illicit drug and an effective treatment against addiction and relapse is still to be found. The conditioned positive reinforcement that environmental stimuli constitute when paired to cocaine use is a challenging pitfall for the extinction of drug-­‐seeking behavior. Serotonin has an important role in the development of substance addiction, is both involved in the arousing effects of cocaine and in an individual’s propensity to develop drug addiction. The s allele carriers of the 5-­‐HTTLPR polymorphism have been reported to have a higher probability of developing substance abuse. In this study a new paradigm is set up in order to explore putative new research line towards an addiction treatment, which specially benefits this portion of the human population. SERT-­‐/-­‐ rats were used to model the s allele carriers and long access cocaine-­‐self administration was used for modeling cocaine addiction. Appetitive-­‐aversive counter conditioning is a cognitive conditioning process, which has the potential to be developed as a new addiction treatment effective against relapse. The animals developed addiction for the drug and were relatively influenced by counter conditioning of the conditioning stimuli. In conclusion, our data shows the flaws and strengths of this paradigm, its possible limitations and advantages. In addition provides a new insight on the nature of drug addiction and Pavlovian conditioning.
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