Behavioral evidence for competing motivational drives of nociception and hunger

Stacey C. LaGraize, Jasenka Borzan, Matthew M. Rinker, James L. Kopp, Perry N. Fuchs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Homeostasis, an organisms' tendency to maintain a healthy balance of the physiological state of the body, is necessary for survival. Hunger induces a motivational state to consume food. Recently, pain has been referred to as a homeostatic emotion similar to hunger or thirst in that animals are motivated to respond in a certain way that may increase their chance of survival. Therefore, the purpose of the present experiment was to examine behavior in rodents during two competing homeostatic/motivational drives (i.e., hunger and formalin pain). During the first phase of the formalin test, animals displayed typical responsiveness to the inflammatory condition and completed fewer chains for food reinforcement as compared to the baseline session. However, during the second phase of the formalin test, animals showed decreased nociceptive behavior compared to formalin-injected animals that were not trained in the operant conditioning paradigm. During this phase, the trained animals exhibited maximal responsiveness for food reinforcement. These results demonstrate that the engagement of behaviors reflecting motivational drives to restore homeostasis depends on the intensity or degree of imbalance of the competing drives. More specifically, animals are motivated to attend to one state of imbalance at a time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 30 2004


  • Formalin
  • Homeostatic function
  • Motivation
  • Operant conditioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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