Disruptive effect of amphetamines on Pavlovian to instrumental transfer

Darien A. Hall, Joshua M. Gulley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reward-seeking behavior can be powerfully modulated by exposure to a conditioned stimulus (CS) that was previously associated with that reward. This can be demonstrated in a Pavlovian to instrumental transfer (PIT) task where presentation of a CS (e.g., tone and light) previously paired with a rewarding unconditioned stimulus (US; e.g., food) leads to increases in a behavioral response, such as a lever press, that was also paired with the same US. The transfer effect can be enhanced in rats by exposing them repeatedly to amphetamine after they have undergone Pavlovian conditioning and instrumental training. However, it is not clear if amphetamine injections given immediately after Pavlovian conditioning, which are predicted to enhance memory consolidation for the CS-US association, would also enhance the transfer effect. We tested this hypothesis by giving male, Sprague-Dawley rats i.p. injections of saline or drug (0.5, 1.0, or 3.0. mg/kg amphetamine or methamphetamine) immediately following Pavlovian conditioning sessions. We found that amphetamine, but not methamphetamine, enhanced Pavlovian approach behavior. During a subsequent PIT test done under extinction conditions, we found that rats given either drug, particularly at the highest dose, exhibited deficits in PIT relative to saline-treated controls. These results suggest that treatment with amphetamines after Pavlovian conditioning sessions, when memory consolidation of the CS-US association is hypothesized to occur, inhibits the ability of the CS to subsequently elicit reward-seeking behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)440-445
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • Addiction
  • Amphetamine
  • Incentive motivation
  • Incentive salience
  • Methamphetamine
  • PIT
  • Pavlovian instrumental transfer
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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