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Alcohol Alcohol. 2002 Mar-Apr;37(2):138-46.

Autoshaping of ethanol drinking: an animal model of binge drinking.

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Department of Psychology and Center of Alcohol Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903, USA.


To examine the hypothesis that Pavlovian autoshaping provides an animal learning model of drug abuse, two studies evaluated the induction of ethanol drinking by autoshaping procedures. In Experiment 1, the sipper tube conditioned stimulus (CS) contained saccharin/ethanol solution and was repeatedly paired with food as an unconditioned stimulus (US). The CS-US paired group consumed more of the 0.1% saccharin-6% ethanol solution than did the CS-US random group, revealing that autoshaping conditioned responses (CR) induce ethanol drinking not attributable to pseudo-conditioning. Experiment 2 employed saccharin-fading procedures and showed that the paired vs random group differences in ethanol drinking were maintained, even as the saccharin was eliminated from the solution. The results show that Pavlovian autoshaping procedures induce high volumes of ethanol drinking when the presentation of a sipper tube containing an ethanol solution precedes the response-independent delivery of food. The high volume of ethanol consumed in a brief period of time suggests that Pavlovian autoshaping may be a model of binge drinking.

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