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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Jan;103(3):481-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2012.09.025. Epub 2012 Oct 6.

Alternative reinforcer response cost impacts methamphetamine choice in humans.

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  • 1University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Department of Behavioral Science, 140 Medical Behavioral Science Building, Lexington, KY 40536-0086, United States.


Methamphetamine use disorders are a persistent public health concern. Behavioral treatments have demonstrated that providing access to non-drug alternative reinforcers reduces methamphetamine use. The purpose of this human laboratory experiment was to determine how changes in response cost for non-drug alternative reinforcers influenced methamphetamine choice. Seven subjects with past year histories of recreational stimulant use completed a placebo-controlled, crossover, double-blind protocol in which they first sampled doses of oral methamphetamine (0, 8 or 16 mg) and completed a battery of subject-rated and physiological measures. During subsequent sessions, subjects then made eight discrete choices between 1/8th of the sampled dose and an alternative reinforcer ($0.25). The response cost to earn a methamphetamine dose was always 500 responses (FR500). The response cost for the alternative reinforcer varied across sessions (FR500, FR1000, FR2000, FR3000). Methamphetamine functioned as a positive reinforcer and produced prototypical stimulant-like effects (e.g., elevated blood pressure, increased ratings of Stimulated). Choice for doses over money was sensitive to changes in response cost for alternative reinforcers in that more doses were taken at higher FR values than at lower FR values. Placebo choices changed as a function of alternative reinforcer response cost to a greater degree than active methamphetamine choices. These findings suggest that manipulating the effort necessary to earn alternative reinforcers could impact methamphetamine use.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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