Chronic morphine affects working memory during treatment and withdrawal in rats: Possible residual long-term impairment

M. Sala, D. Braida, M. P. Leone, P. Calcaterra, D. Frattola, E. Gori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An eight-arm radial maze was used to investigate a possible short-term (during the development of tolerance and dependence) and long-term (6, 9 and 12 months after treatment) effect on working memory, in young rats, which drank morphine (0.5 mg/ml) for 1 month, or to which the drug was administered by i.p. injection (at weekly increasing doses of 20, 50, 100, 200 mg/kg). Tail flick test and cortically derived electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings were also carried out in the same rats to determine any modifications in analgesia and in total EEG mean power spectra during treatment and withdrawal. Complete tolerance to morphine analgesia developed during the period of drug treatment. Chronic morphine significantly impaired radial maze performance in the working memory components of the task during both treatment and early withdrawal, but only in the i.p. group. Six and 9 months after morphine treatment, both the oral and i.p. group showed a significant impairment of radial maze performance. The mean power spectra were altered during treatment but returned to baseline values during abstinence, except for the first day. These findings suggest the possibility of morphine-induced premature ageing, which is more evident in i.p. treated animals. The mechanism by which morphine treatment produces residual long-term learning impairment requires further elucidation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-580
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioural Pharmacology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Ageing
  • Analgesia
  • EEG power spectra
  • Morphine
  • Radial maze
  • Rat
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology


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