Send to

Choose Destination
Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Sep 1;72(5):389-95. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.02.024. Epub 2012 Mar 20.

Habitual alcohol seeking: time course and the contribution of subregions of the dorsal striatum.

Author information

Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.



Addictions are defined by a loss of flexible control over behavior. The development of response habits might reflect early changes in behavioral control. The following experiments examined the flexibility of alcohol-seeking after different durations of self-administration training and tested the role of the dorsal striatum in the control of flexible and habitual alcohol self-administration.


Rats were trained to lever-press to earn unsweetened ethanol (EtOH) (10%). The sensitivity of the lever-press response to devaluation was assessed by prefeeding the rats either EtOH or sucrose before an extinction test after different amounts of training (1, 2, 4, and 8 weeks). We subsequently tested the role of the dorsomedial striatum (DMS) and dorsolateral striatum (DLS) in controlling alcohol seeking with reversible inactivation techniques (baclofen/muscimol: 1.0/.1 mmol/L, .3 μL/side).


We find that operant responding for EtOH early in training is goal-directed and reduced by devaluation, but after 8 weeks of daily operant training, control has shifted to a habit-based system no longer sensitive to devaluation. Furthermore, after relatively limited training, when responding is sensitive to devaluation, inactivation of the DMS greatly attenuates the alcohol-seeking response, whereas inactivation of the DLS is without effect. In contrast, responding that is insensitive to devaluation after 8 weeks of training becomes sensitive to devaluation after inactivation of the DLS but is unaffected by inactivation of the DMS.


These experiments demonstrate that extended alcohol self-administration produces habit-like responding and that response control shifts from the DMS to the DLS across the course of training.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center