Neuronal activity associated with cocaine preference: Effects of differential cocaine intake

Jonathan J. Chow, Rebecca S. Hofford, Joshua S. Beckmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Differences in overall cocaine intake can directly affect neuroadaptations, and this relationship can make it difficult to interpret neurobiological changes seen in drug-choice studies, since drug intake varies between subjects. Herein, a choice procedure that controls for cocaine intake was utilized to explore if neuronal activity, measured as cFos expression in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and nucleus accumbens (NAc), was reflective of preference. Results demonstrated that cFos expression, in both the OFC and NAc, was independent of cocaine preference when cocaine intake was kept constant across individuals. However, when cocaine intake was systematically varied, the expression of cFos associated with cocaine preference was related to overall cocaine intake in the OFC, but not the NAc. Altogether, these results demonstrate that cocaine intake during choice can affect neurobiological outcome measures; thus, the neurobehavioral mechanisms underlying cocaine preference may be better isolated when controlling for cocaine frequency and intake. In all, some caution is warranted when interpreting results from choice studies evaluating the neurobehavioral mechanisms that underlie drug preference when drug frequency and intake are uncontrolled, and future research is needed to determine the role of drug frequency and intake on neurobiological measures associated with drug choice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108441
StatePublished - Feb 15 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Choice
  • Cocaine
  • Decision-making
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In situ hybridization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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