High Impulsivity Predicts the Switch to Compulsive Cocaine-Taking

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Science  06 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5881, pp. 1352-1355
DOI: 10.1126/science.1158136

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Both impulsivity and novelty-seeking have been suggested to be behavioral markers of the propensity to take addictive drugs. However, their relevance for the vulnerability to compulsively seek and take drugs, which is a hallmark feature of addiction, is unknown. We report here that, whereas high reactivity to novelty predicts the propensity to initiate cocaine self-administration, high impulsivity predicts the development of addiction-like behavior in rats, including persistent or compulsive drug-taking in the face of aversive outcomes. This study shows experimental evidence that a shift from impulsivity to compulsivity occurs during the development of addictive behavior, which provides insights into the genesis and neural mechanisms of drug addiction.

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