Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Experimental Psychology



First Reader/Committee Chair

McDougall, Sanders


The neural mechanisms mediating one-trial and multi-trial behavioral sensitization during early ontogeny are poorly understood. The purpose of this thesis was to assess the importance of D2-like receptors for the induction of cocaine- and methamphetamine-induced one-trial and multi-trial behavioral sensitization during the middle and late preweanling period. In a series of four experiments, rats were injected with saline or the selective dopamine D2-like receptor antagonist raclopride 15 min prior to treatment with the indirect dopamine agonists cocaine or methamphetamine. Acute control groups received two injections of saline. The pretreatment regimens occurred on either PND 16 or PND 20 (one-trial behavioral sensitization) or PND 13-16 or PND 17-20 (multi-trial behavioral sensitization). On PND 17 or PND 21, rats were challenged with either cocaine or methamphetamine and sensitized responding was assessed. With only a single exception, both one -trial and multi-trial cocaine- and methamphetamine-induced sensitization was evident on PND 17 and PND 21. Importantly, the D2-like receptor antagonist raclopride did not prevent the induction of cocaine- or methamphetamine-induced one-trial behavioral sensitization. In regards to multi-trial behavioral sensitization, raclopride failed to inhibit cocaine -induced sensitized responding on PND 17 and PND 21. Interestingly, higher doses of raclopride (0.5 and 1 mg/kg) were able to prevent the induction of multi-trial methamphetamine-induced sensitization on PND 17. Therefore, D2-like receptor antagonism differentially affected methamphetamine -induced behavioral sensitization depending on whether a one-trial or multi-trial paradigm was employed. When considered together, these results suggest that the neural mechanisms underlying the methamphetamine -induced behavioral sensitization of preweanling rats differs depending on the type of experimental paradigm (one- vs multi-trial) being used. Other potential explanations (i.e., nonspecific antagonist effects, impact of contextual conditioning, etc.) for this interesting effect are presented in the Discussion.