Plenary Lecture

Acute and Long-Term Effects Elicited by Psychoactive Drugs on 50-Khz Ultrasonic Vocalizations in Rats: Development of a New Experimental Tool for the Study of Drug-Mediated Reward

Assistant Professor Nicola Simola
Department of Biomedical Sciences
University of Cagliari

Abstract: Ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) have recently emerged as an indicator of the emotional state of rats, and the evaluation of the USVs in the 50-kHz range has been proposed as a tool to investigate the affective properties of drugs of abuse. To clarify the relevance of 50-kHz USVs to drug-induced reward, the acute and long-term effects elicited by different psychoactive drugs [amphetamine, caffeine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy), methylphenidate, morphine, and nicotine] were characterized in adult male rats. Amphetamine and methylphenidate were the only drugs that stimulated the emission of 50-kHz USVs by rats after their acute administration. Moreover, amphetamine was the only drug that elicited a significant emission of 50-kHz USVs after repeated administration. However, rats in all the treatment groups emitted 50-kHz USVs when later re-exposed to the environment previously paired with repeated drug administration, likely indicative of drug-mediated environmental conditioning. Taken together, these results demonstrate the existence of major differences in the acute and long-term effects of different psychoactive drugs on the emission of 50-kHz USVs by rats. Moreover, these results provide a better understanding of the usefulness of 50-kHz USVs as a new tool for the assessment of drug-mediated reward, with implications for the preclinical study of addictive behaviors.

Brief Biography of the Speaker: Nicola Simola received his M.S. Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology and his Ph.D. Degree in Pharmacology of Drug Abuse from the University of Cagliari, Italy. NS currently performs his research activity at the Department of Biomedical Sciences of the University of Cagliari, where he is Assistant Professor of Pharmacology. NS’s research involves the study and development of new therapeutic agents for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, focusing on adenosine receptor antagonists and metabolic enhancers, the development of new preclinical models of early-stage Parkinson’s disease, and the study of the interactions between caffeine and other recreational psychostimulants bearing addiciton potential. NS's research activity has recently focused on the study of ultrasonic communication in rodents, in an attempt to develop new tools for the study of the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse. NS is author of several articles on caffeine, Parkinson’s disease, neurodegeneartion and related topics, published in international journals and scientific books.

Bulletin Board


The Conference Program is online.

The Conference Guide is online.

The paper submission deadline has expired. Please choose a future conference to submit your paper.

Plenary Speakers

WSEAS Main Site

Publication Ethics and Malpractice Statement