In rats, Pavlovian sign-tracking has been extensively evaluated as a model of compulsiveness in drug addiction and other addictive behaviors, but it remains unexplored in mice, a species with a wealth of genetically modified models, which makes it possible to examine gene-behavior relationships. In C57BL/6 mice, the most commonly used mouse strain for genetic studies, repeated pairings of lever conditioned stimulus (CS) with food unconditioned stimulus (US) induced Pavlovian conditioning of sign-tracking conditioned response (ST CR) performance of lever CS-directed approach, and Pavlovian conditioning of goal-tracking conditioned response (GT CR) performance of approach responses directed at the location of the food trough where the food US was delivered. The CS-US Paired group performed more ST CRs and more GT CRs during sessions 15-16 than did pseudoconditioning controls which received the lever CS and food US randomly with respect to one another. During sessions 15-16, all mice in the Paired group performed more GT CRs than ST CRs, and regression analysis revealed a positive relationship between an individual subject's tendency to perform ST CRs and GT CRs. The mice that performed more ST CRs during sessions 15-16 yielded higher plasma corticosterone levels. These data reveal stable and reliable acquisition and maintenance of ST CR performance and GT CR performance in mice; however, unlike in rats, ST CRs and GT CRs did not vary inversely within subjects. Corticosterone release, a pathophysiological marker of vulnerability to drug abuse, was positively related to ST CR performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Incentive salience
- Pavlovian conditioned approach