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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2000 Dec;153(1):17-30.

Second-order schedules of drug reinforcement in rats and monkeys: measurement of reinforcing efficacy and drug-seeking behaviour.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.



To review the literature on the use of second-order schedules of drug reinforcement in the context of experimental investigations of the neural and pharmacological mechanisms underlying addictive behaviour in general and drug-seeking behaviour in particular.


Second-order schedules of drug reinforcement are described in which responding is maintained not only by the self-administered drug, but also by contingent presentation of drug-paired stimuli that serve as conditioned reinforcers of instrumental behaviour.


The behaviour of rats and monkeys responding under second-order schedules is discussed in relation to self-administered drug dose and the importance of drug-associated cues in maintaining responding for cocaine, morphine or heroin. Drug-seeking behaviour during the period before drug is self-administered is described and compared with drug-seeking behaviour derived from other procedures. In addition, results are summarised that demonstrate the differential involvement of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex in the acquisition of cue-controlled cocaine- and heroin-seeking behaviour, as well as the effects of drugs interacting with D3 dopamine, NMDA and AMPA receptors on drug-seeking behaviour and dopaminergic correlates of drug-paired stimuli presented non-contingently and during responding for cocaine under a second-order schedule.


We argue that the first, drug-free interval (or other period) of responding under a second-order schedule of reinforcement has particular utility in that it provides a measure of drug-seeking behaviour and reinforcing efficacy that are not affected by the pharmacological effects of recently administered drug. It also provides a means of investigating the role of drug-paired stimuli in drug-seeking behaviour, including its behavioural, neural and neurochemical basis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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