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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2008 Feb;196(3):397-405. Epub 2007 Oct 30.

Goal- and signal-directed incentive: conditioned approach, seeking, and consumption established with unsweetened alcohol in rats.

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1
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7, Canada. marvin.krank@ubc.ca

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Many theories of addictive behavior propose that cues signaling drug administration influence the likelihood of drug-taking and drug-seeking behavior.

OBJECTIVES:

We investigated the behavioral impact of cues associated with unsweetened ethanol and their interaction with responding maintained by ethanol self-administration. Our goal was to establish the influence of such cues on ethanol seeking.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

The experiment used a matching contingency and saccharin-fading procedure to establish equal levels of responding to two spatially distinct levers using unsweetened 10% ethanol solution. After ethanol self-administration was established, a brief cue light located alternately over each lever location was either paired or unpaired (control) with the opportunity to consume the same ethanol solution. Finally, self-administration was re-established, and the effect of the cue was measured in a transfer design.

RESULTS:

The reaction to lights paired with the opportunity to ingest unsweetened ethanol had three main effects: (1) induction of operant behavior reinforced by ethanol, (2) stimulation of ethanol-seeking behavior (drinker entries), and (3) cue-directed approach and contact behavior (i.e. autoshaping or sign-tracking). Cue-directed behavior to the light interacted with choice behavior in a manner predicted by the location of the cue light, enhancing responding only when the approach response did not interfere with the operant response.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings replicate and extend the effects of Pavlovian conditioning on ethanol-seeking and support-conditioned incentive theories of addictive behavior. Signals for ethanol influence spatial choice behavior and may be relevant to attentional bias shown to alcohol-associated stimuli in humans.

PMID:
17965977
DOI:
10.1007/s00213-007-0971-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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