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Neuroscience. 2008 Jul 31;155(1):1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.06.004. Epub 2008 Jun 8.

Impaired object recognition following prolonged withdrawal from extended-access cocaine self-administration.

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Neuroscience Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Cocaine addicts have a number of cognitive deficits that persist following prolonged abstinence. These include impairments in executive functions dependent on the prefrontal cortex, as well as deficits on learning and memory tasks sensitive to hippocampal function. Recent preclinical studies using non-human animals have demonstrated that cocaine treatment can produce persistent deficits in executive functions, but there is relatively little evidence that treatment with cocaine produces persistent deficits in performance on hippocampal-dependent tasks. We recently demonstrated that extended (but not limited) access to self-administered cocaine is especially effective in producing persistent deficits on a test of cognitive vigilance, and therefore, we used this procedure to examine the effects of limited or extended access to cocaine self-administration on recognition memory performance, which is sensitive to hippocampal function. We found that extended access to cocaine produced deficits in recognition memory in rats that persisted for at least 2 weeks after the cessation of drug use. We conclude that the deficits in learning and memory observed in cocaine addicts may be at least in part due to repeated drug use, rather than just due to a pre-existing condition, and that in studying the neural basis of such deficits procedures involving extended access to self-administered cocaine may be especially useful.

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