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The behavioural response to psychomotor stimulants is augmented with repeated exposure to these drugs. Enhanced stimulated dopamine overflow within the nucleus accumbens and amygdala has been found to accompany this behavioural sensitization. In the present experiment, rats received 2 mg/kg d-amphetamine or 1 ml/kg physiological saline once per day for 5 days. Five days later, a behavioural assay confirmed that prior repeated d-amphetamine treatment markedly enhanced the locomotor activating effects of a d-amphetamine (0.5 mg/kg, i.p) challenge. Training on a Pavlovian conditioning task began six days subsequently. In Stage 1, a stimulus (light or tone, S-) was presented negatively correlated with a sucrose reward. In Stage 2, presentation of the alternative counterbalanced stimulus (light or tone, S+) was paired with the availability of a 10% sucrose solution. There were no differences between the two groups in their response to the the S- stimulus. However, sensitized animals showed a selective enhancement in the acquisition of conditioned responding to S+, relative to vehicle-injected controls. No differences in behaviour were recorded during the prestimulus periods, nor during presentations of sucrose. Levels of activity within the operant chamber extraneous to alcove approach were also similar in both groups of animals. The conditioned instrumental efficacy of S+, relative to S- was assessed in Stage 3, in which stimulus availability was made contingent on a novel lever-pressing response. Both groups showed a similar preference for the S+ over the S- stimulus. Hence, rats sensitized by prior repeated d-amphetamine showed enhanced appetitive Pavlovian conditioning, without subsequent effect on conditioned reward efficacy. These data are discussed in light of possible changes in mesoamygdaloid dopamine functioning.

Original publication




Journal article


Behavioural Pharmacology

Publication Date





299 - 308