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Behav Pharmacol. 1993 Feb;4(1):3-13.

Multiple-choice procedure: an efficient approach for investigating drug reinforcement in humans.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bayview Research Campus, 5510 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Two experiments demonstrated the efficiency of assessing drug reinforcement in humans by using a novel multiple-choice procedure. The distinguishing characteristic of the procedure is that it arranges intermittent reinforcement for choices between pairs of potential reinforcers. The procedure has three key operations: (1) a subject is exposed to the potential reinforcers; (2) a subject then makes two or more choices on a questionnaire; for each choice, the subject is required to choose one of two potential reinforcers (e.g. drug vs. drug choices and/or drug vs. money choices); and (3) subsequently only one of the choices, randomly selected, is reinforced. In the present experiments, two variations of the multiple-choice procedure were evaluated in twelve male drug abusers. Both experiments assessed the reinforcing effects of three drug conditions (200 and 400) mg/70kg pentobarbital and placebo) which were presented no more often than every to other day. The experiments demonstrated dose-related choice of pentobarbital over money as well as choice of a higher dose of pentobarbital over a lower dose or placebo. Orderly data were generated with a single-session exposure to each drug condition. Multiple-choice procedures should have applicability, not only to the investigation of drug reinforcement, but also to the study of non-drug reinforcement in humans.


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