Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biological Sciences


Travis M. Moschak


Literature has established that there are certain behaviors that are predictive of drug seeking and relapse such as impulsivity, distress tolerance (DT), Pavlovian conditioned approach (PCA), anxiety, and sensation-seeking. However, few studies have examined the behavioral interactions among these tasks and drug-seeking, and none have examined the neural interactions in the prelimbic cortex, which has an essential role in drug-seeking and is implicated in each of the aforementioned behaviors of interest.We therefore hypothesized that certain behaviors including high impulsivity, low distress tolerance, high anxiety, and high locomotor activity would predict high cocaine-seeking. We further hypothesized that the neuronal activity in the prelimbic cortex during these predictive behaviors would also predict cocaine-seeking. Sprague Dawley rats underwent a GCAMP6s viral infusion and lens surgery and performed various tasks upon recovery, and their prelimbic activity was recorded via calcium imaging. Afterwards, rats underwent cocaine or water self-administration for 2 weeks followed by an extinction task to measure drug-seeking, and the original behaviors were reassessed. Sex differences were observed, with females showing less anxiety and higher distress tolerance. Cocaine decreased distress tolerance. Neuronal activity didn't significantly change following cocaine but correlated with self-administration behaviors. Notably, there were significant interactions between behaviors and their neuronal activity with self-administration and reward-seeking. Specifically, sensation-seeking behavior predicted water and cocaine seeking, prelimbic activity during DT predicted cocaine and water self-administration, and prelimbic activity during PCA predicts cocaine and vii water seeking. Overall, cocaine reduced distress tolerance but had limited effects elsewhere. However, behaviors and prelimbic activity significantly predicted drug intake and reward-seeking. Understanding these connections could inform targeted therapies for individuals prone to drug seeking and relapse.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

51 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Karla J Galvan

Included in

Biology Commons