Amphetamine and the Smart Drug 3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) Induce Generalization of Fear Memory in Rats

Paola Colucci, Giulia Federica Mancini, Alessia Santori, Clemens Zwergel, Antonello Mai, Viviana Trezza, Benno Roozendaal, Patrizia Campolongo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human studies have consistently shown that drugs of abuse affect memory function. The psychostimulants amphetamine and the “bath salt” 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) increase brain monoamine levels through a similar, yet not identical, mechanism of action. Findings indicate that amphetamine enhances the consolidation of memory for emotional experiences, but still MDPV effects on memory function are underinvestigated. Here, we tested the effects induced by these two drugs on generalization of fear memory and their relative neurobiological underpinnings. To this aim, we used a modified version of the classical inhibitory avoidance task, termed inhibitory avoidance discrimination task. According to such procedure, adult male Sprague–Dawley rats were first exposed to one inhibitory avoidance apparatus and, with a 1-min delay, to a second apparatus where they received an inescapable footshock. Forty-eight hours later, retention latencies were tested, in a randomized order, in the two training apparatuses as well as in a novel contextually modified apparatus to assess both strength and generalization of memory. Our results indicated that both amphetamine and MDPV induced generalization of fear memory, whereas only amphetamine enhanced memory strength. Co-administration of the β-adrenoceptor antagonist propranolol prevented the effects of both amphetamine and MDPV on the strength and generalization of memory. The dopaminergic receptor blocker cis-flupenthixol selectively reversed the amphetamine effect on memory generalization. These findings indicate that amphetamine and MDPV induce generalization of fear memory through different modulations of noradrenergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number292
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Nov 29 2019


  • behavior
  • dopamine
  • inhibitory avoidance discrimination task
  • memory accuracy
  • norepinephrine
  • rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Amphetamine and the Smart Drug 3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) Induce Generalization of Fear Memory in Rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this