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Repeated episodes of chronic intermittent ethanol promote insensitivity to devaluation of the reinforcing effect of ethanol

DOI: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2014.09.002
  • Operant Conditioning
  • Ethanol Self-Administration
  • Ethanol Dependence
  • Pavlovian Conditioning
  • Mice
  • Economics


Abstract Studies in animal models have shown that repeated episodes of alcohol dependence and withdrawal promote escalation of drinking that is presumably associated with alterations in the addiction neurocircuitry. Using a lithium chloride-ethanol pairing procedure to devalue the reinforcing properties of ethanol, the present study determined whether multiple cycles of chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) exposure by vapor inhalation also alters the sensitivity of drinking behavior to the devaluation of ethanol's reinforcing effects. The effect of devaluation on operant ethanol self-administration and extinction was examined in mice prior to initiation of CIE (short drinking history) and after repeated cycles of CIE or air control exposure (long drinking history). Devaluation significantly attenuated the recovery of baseline ethanol self-administration when tested either prior to CIE or in the air-exposed controls that had experienced repeated bouts of drinking but no CIE. In contrast, in mice that had undergone repeated cycles of CIE exposure that promoted escalation of ethanol drinking, self-administration was completely resistant to the effect of devaluation. Devaluation had no effect on the time course of extinction training in either pre-CIE or post-CIE mice. Taken together, these results are consistent with the suggestion that repeated cycles of ethanol dependence and withdrawal produce escalation of ethanol self-administration that is associated with a change in sensitivity to devaluation of the reinforcing properties of ethanol.

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