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Behav Neurosci. 2008 Dec;122(6):1383-90. doi: 10.1037/a0013968.

The state of the reward comparison hypothesis: theoretical comment on Huang and Hsiao (2008).

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Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


Rats avoid intake of a gustatory cue following pairings with a drug of abuse, such as morphine or cocaine. Despite the well-established rewarding properties of these drugs, the reduction in intake of the taste cue has been interpreted as a conditioned taste aversion for decades. In 1997, I proposed the reward comparison hypothesis suggesting that rats avoided intake of the drug-associated taste cue because the value of the taste cue pales in comparison to the highly rewarding drug of abuse expected in the near future. In this issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, A. C. W. Huang and S. Hsiao challenge the reward comparison hypothesis by showing parallels between amphetamine and LiCl-induced suppression of CS intake. This commentary addresses the current state of the reward comparison hypothesis in the context of the experiments completed by Huang and Hsiao and their new task-dependent drug effects hypothesis.

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