Stimulant addiction is often linked to excessive risk taking, sensation seeking, and impulsivity, but in ways that are poorly understood. We report here that a form of impulsivity in rats predicts high rates of intravenous cocaine self-administration and is associated with changes in dopamine (DA) function before drug exposure. Using positron emission tomography, we demonstrated that D2/3 receptor availability is significantly reduced in the nucleus accumbens of impulsive rats that were never exposed to cocaine and that such effects are independent of DA release. These data demonstrate that trait impulsivity predicts cocaine reinforcement and that D2 receptor dysfunction in abstinent cocaine addicts may, in part, be determined by premorbid influences.
In other words, rats, and quite possibly people, becomce thrill seekers and addicts because it takes more to thrill them.