Anti-craving effects of environmental enrichment

Kenneth J. Thiel, Federico Sanabria, Nathan S. Pentkowski, Janet Neisewander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


We hypothesized that environmental enrichment in rats may reduce cocaine-seeking behaviour elicited by cocaine-priming injections and by cocaine-associated cues. Rats trained to self-administer cocaine while housed in isolated conditions were then assigned to live in isolation or an enriched environment for 21 d of forced abstinence. Subsequently, extinction and reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behaviour (operant responses without cocaine available) were assessed. Expt 1 showed that enrichment resulted in less cocaine-seeking behaviour during extinction and cue-elicited reinstatement compared to continued isolation housing, but had no effect on cocaine-primed reinstatement. A subsequent experiment, which included a pair-housed group to control for potential isolation stress, again demonstrated that enrichment attenuated cocaine seeking during extinction, but not cocaine-primed reinstatement, relative to both isolation and pair-housed conditions. The findings suggest that enrichment reduces the impact of cocaine-associated environmental stimuli, and hence it may be a useful intervention for attenuating cue-elicited craving in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1151-1156
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Cocaine
  • drug-seeking behaviour
  • environmental enrichment
  • reinstatement
  • self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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