Behavioral Evaluation of Modafinil and the Abuse-Related Effects of Cocaine in Rhesus Monkeys

Jennifer L. Newman, S. Stevens Negus, Anthony Lozama, Thomas E. Prisinzano, Nancy K. Mello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Modafinil is a central nervous system stimulant used to promote wakefulness, and it is being evaluated clinically as an agonist medication for treating stimulant abuse. This is the first report of the effects of modafinil on the abuse-related effects of cocaine in nonhuman primates. The behavioral effects of modafinil were examined in three studies. First, the discriminative stimulus effects of modafinil (3.2-32 mg/kg) were evaluated in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) trained to discriminate either low (0.18 mg/kg, IM) or high (0.4 mg/kg, IM) doses of cocaine from saline. Modafinil dose-dependently substituted for cocaine in 6 of 7 monkeys. In the second study, the effects of chronically administered modafinil (32-56 mg/kg/day, IV) on food- and cocaine-maintained (0.001-0.1 mg/kg/inj) operant responding were examined. Modafinil was administered 3 times/hr for 23 hr/day to ensure stable drug levels. Chronic treatment with 32 mg/kg/day modafinil selectively reduced responding maintained by intermediate and peak reinforcing doses of cocaine, but responding maintained by higher doses of cocaine was unaffected. Food-maintained behavior did not change during chronic modafinil treatment. In a third study, modafinil (32 and 56 mg/kg/day, IV) was examined in a reinstatement model. Modafinil transiently increased responding during extinction. These findings indicate that modafinil shares discriminative stimulus effects with cocaine and selectively reduces responding maintained by reinforcing doses of cocaine. In addition, modafinil reinstated cocaine-seeking behavior, which may reflect its cocaine-like discriminative stimulus effects. These data support clinical findings and indicate that these preclinical models may be useful for predicting the effectiveness of agonist medications for drug abuse treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-408
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Cocaine
  • Drug discrimination
  • Modafinil
  • Rhesus monkey
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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