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Physiol Behav. 2012 Jan 18;105(2):417-27. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.08.041. Epub 2011 Sep 10.

Acute, but not chronic, exposure to d-cycloserine facilitates extinction and modulates spontaneous recovery of a conditioned taste aversion.

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The Neuroscience Program, Baldwin-Wallace College, 275 Eastland Rd., Berea, OH 44017, USA.


D-cycloserine, the glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor partial agonist, has been reported to facilitate the extinction of learned fears acquired in both naturalistic and laboratory settings. The current study extended this literature by evaluating the ability of either chronic or acute administrations of DCS to modulate the extinction and spontaneous recovery of a conditioned taste aversion (CTA). Twenty-three hour fluid-deprived Sprague-Dawley rats acquired a strong CTA following 3 pairings of a conditioned stimulus (CS; 0.3% oral saccharin)+unconditioned stimulus [US; 81 mg/kg (i.p.) lithium chloride (LiCl)]. In separate groups of rats, we then employed 2 different extinction paradigms: (1) CS-only (CSO-EXT) in which saccharin was presented every-other day, or (2) Explicitly Unpaired (EU-EXT) in which both saccharin and LiCl were presented but on alternate days. Previous studies have indicated that the EU-EXT procedure speeds up the extinction process. Further, spontaneous recovery of a CTA emerges following CSO-EXT but the EU-EXT paradigm causes a suppression of spontaneous recovery. DCS (15 mg/kg, i.p.) was administered immediately after daily liquid presentations (saccharin or water, alternate days) during the extinction period. In an acute drug manipulation, DCS (15 mg/kg, i.p.) or saline control injections were administered for 4 days only. This was done during one of 3 different phases of extinction [i.e., static (2-5%), early dynamic (8-16%), or middle dynamic (20-40%) saccharin reacceptance]. Other animals assigned to the chronic DCS condition received daily DCS (15 mg/kg, i.p.) throughout extinction. Changes in saccharin drinking in these animals were compared to the data from rats that received no drug (saline controls). Once rats met our criterion for asymptotic extinction (90% reacceptance of the CS) they entered a 30-day latency period during which they received water for 1 h/day. The day after the completion of the latency period, a final opportunity to drink saccharin was provided (spontaneous recovery test). Saline-treated control rats that went through the EU-EXT procedure achieved asymptotic extinction more quickly than did the CSO-EXT rats and did not exhibit a spontaneous recovery of the CTA. Chronic DCS treatments did not significantly reduce the time to achieve asymptotic CTA extinction in rats exposed to either CSO or EU extinction methods. Further, animals treated with DCS throughout EU-EXT exhibited a spontaneous recovery of the CTA whereas the saline-treated, EU-EXT rats did not. Thus, chronic DCS treatment did not shorten the time to extinguish a CTA and this treatment eliminated the ability of EU-EXT to block spontaneous recovery of the CTA. Acute DCS treatments were more effective in reducing the time required to extinguish a CTA than were chronic drug treatments. Moreover, the timing of these acute DCS treatments affected spontaneous recovery of the CTA depending on the extinction method employed. Acute DCS administrations later in extinction were more effective in reducing spontaneous recovery than were early administrations if the rats went through the CSO-EXT procedure. However, late-in-extinction administrations of DCS facilitated spontaneous recovery of the CTA in rats that experienced the EU-EXT method. These data agree with other findings suggesting that DCS treatments are more effective when administered a limited number of times. Our data extend these findings to the CTA paradigm and further suggest that, depending on the extinction paradigm employed, acute exposure to DCS can speed up CTA extinction and reduce spontaneous recovery of the aversion. The timing of the acute DCS treatment during extinction is generally less important than its duration in predicting the rate of CTA extinction. However, the timing of acute DCS treatments during extinction and the method of extinction employed can interact to affect spontaneous recovery of a CTA.

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