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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2012 Nov 1;2(11). pii: a011940. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a011940.

Responses to novelty and vulnerability to cocaine addiction: contribution of a multi-symptomatic animal model.

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  • 1INSERM U, Laboratoire de Neurosciences Expérimentales et Cliniques, Group Psychobiology of Compulsive Disorders, Université de Poitiers, France.


Epidemiological studies have revealed striking associations between several distinct behavioral/personality traits and drug addiction, with a large emphasis on the sensation-seeking trait and the associated impulsive dimension of personality. However, in human studies, it is difficult to identify whether personality/behavioral traits actually contribute to increased vulnerability to drug addiction or reflect psychobiological adaptations to chronic drug exposure. Here we show how animal models, including the first multi-symptomatic model of addiction in the rat, have contributed to a better understanding of the relationships between different subdimensions of the sensation-seeking trait and different stages of the development of cocaine addiction, from vulnerability to initiation of cocaine self-administration to the transition to compulsive drug intake. We argue that sensation seeking predicts vulnerability to use cocaine, whereas novelty seeking, akin to high impulsivity, predicts instead vulnerability to shift from controlled to compulsive cocaine use, that is, addiction.

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