Post-training amphetamine administration enhances memory consolidation in appetitive Pavlovian conditioning: Implications for drug addiction


It has been suggested that some of the addictive potential of psychostimulant drugs of abuse such as amphetamine may result from their ability to enhance memory for drug-related experiences through actions on memory consolidation. This experiment examined whether amphetamine can specifically enhance consolidation of memory for a Pavlovian association between a neutral conditioned stimulus (CS-a light) and a rewarding unconditioned stimulus (US-food), as Pavlovian conditioning of this sort plays a major role in drug addiction. Male Long-Evans rats were given six training sessions consisting of 8 CS presentations followed by delivery of the food into a recessed food cup. After the 1st, 3rd, and 5th session, rats received subcutaneous injections of amphetamine (1.0 or 2.0 mg/kg) or saline vehicle immediately following training. Conditioned responding was assessed using the percentage of time rats spent in the food cup during the CS relative to a pre-CS baseline period. Both amphetamine-treated groups showed significantly more selective conditioned responding than saline controls. In a control experiment, there were no differences among groups given saline, 1.0 or 2.0 mg/kg amphetamine 2 h post-training, suggesting that immediate post-training amphetamine enhanced performance specifically through actions on memory consolidation rather than through non-mnemonic processes. This procedure modeled Pavlovian learning involved in drug addiction, in which the emotional valence of a drug reward is transferred to neutral drug-predictive stimuli such as drug paraphernalia. These data suggest that amphetamine may contribute to its addictive potential through actions specifically on memory consolidation. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory