The effect of high-fat diet consumption on appetitive instrumental behavior in rats

Frédéric Tantot, Shauna L. Parkes, Alain R. Marchand, Chloé Boitard, Fabien Naneix, Sophie Layé, Pierre Trifilieff, Etienne Coutureau, Guillaume Ferreira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence now indicates that the chronic consumption of high-calorie foods, such as a high-fat diet (HFD), is associated with impaired control over food-seeking, yet the extent of this alteration is not fully understood. Using different reinforcement schedules, we evaluated whether HFD intake from weaning to adulthood modifies instrumental responding and induces a shift from goal-directed actions to habitual responding. We first observed reduced instrumental performance and motivation for a food reward in HFD-fed rats trained under schedules of reinforcement that facilitate habitual responding [Random Interval (RI)]. However, this deficit was alleviated if rats trained under RI were subsequently trained with reinforcement schedules that promote goal-directed strategies [Random Ratio (RR)]. Using an outcome devaluation procedure, we then demonstrated that consumption of a HFD promoted habitual behavior in rats trained under RI but not RR schedules. Finally, extended HFD exposure did not interfere with the ability of RR training to overcome impaired RI instrumental performance and to favor goal-directed behavior. These results indicate that chronic consumption of a HFD changes the co-ordination of goal-directed actions and habits and that alteration of food-seeking may be reversed under particular behavioral conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-211
Number of pages9
Early online date3 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by the Grant Emergence de Jeune Equipe INRA 2010–2012 (GF) and the French ANR-14-CE13-0014 GOAL (EC, GF) and ANR-15-CE17-0013 OBETEEN (GF, EC). FT was the recipient of a fellowship from the French Ministry of Research and Higher Education (2012–2015). SLP was recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from Région Aquitaine (2014) and INRA (2015–2016) and the AgreenSkills fellowship programme (2014–2016) which has received funding from the EU's Seventh framework programme under Grant agreement N_FP7-267196. We thank Mathilde Dausse for technical assistance and Mathieu Cadet and Yoan Salafranque for the care provided to the animals during the experiments.


  • Action
  • Diet
  • Habit
  • Obesity
  • Operant conditioning
  • Outcome devaluation


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