Assessment of sucrose and ethanol reinforcement: The across-session breakpoint procedure

Cristine L. Czachowski, Brooke H. Legg, Herman H. Samson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


We have demonstrated previously that the use of an across-session progressive ratio procedure yields breakpoint values for 10% ethanol (10E) that are stable and comparable to those measured for other drugs of abuse [Alcohol. Clin. Exp. Res. 23 (1999) 1580]. The aims of the present experiment were twofold: (1) to determine whether this procedure is sensitive to changes in reinforcer magnitude using a reinforcer previously demonstrated to affect operant responding in a predictable fashion and (2) to determine whether ethanol reinforcement produced similar changes in behavior. Male, Long-Evans rats were trained to respond for either 3% sucrose (3S) or 10E using the sipper tube appetitive/consummatory procedure where the completion of a single response requirement results in access to a liquid solution for 20 min. Three successive breakpoints were determined for this "baseline" solution by increasing the response requirement each day until it was not completed. The concentration of the solutions was then manipulated such that breakpoints for the Sucrose Group were assessed for 1%, 3%, 5% and 10% sucrose, and breakpoints for the Ethanol Group were assessed for 2%, 5%, 10% and 20% ethanol. The concentration manipulation showed that sucrose concentration had a greater impact on seeking and consumption than did ethanol concentration. Breakpoints in the Sucrose Group were highly correlated with sucrose concentration, whereas in the Ethanol Group, breakpoint was unrelated to ethanol concentration. Ethanol intake patterns suggested that pharmacological factors might have been regulating intake, and that when physiologically detectable amounts of ethanol were consumed, there was a dissociation between seeking and intake with slightly elevated ethanol seeking. Overall, the across-session breakpoint procedure confirmed that sweet taste was highly related to seeking and consumption, whereas ethanol-motivated responding may be controlled by different regulatory mechanisms that are distinct to seeking and consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-59
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Appetitive
  • Consummatory
  • Ethanol
  • Progressive ratio
  • Sucrose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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