Oral Conditioned Cues Can Enhance or Inhibit Ethanol (EtOH)-Seeking and EtOH-Relapse Drinking by Alcohol-Preferring (P) Rats

Christopher P. Knight, Sheketha R. Hauser, Gerald A. Deehan, Jamie E. Toalston, William J. Mcbride, Zachary A. Rodd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Background: Conditioned cues can elicit drug-seeking in both humans and rodents. The majority of preclinical research has employed excitatory conditioned cues (stimuli present throughout the availability of a reinforcer), but oral consumption of alcohol is similar to a conditional stimuli (presence of stimuli is paired with the delivery of the reinforcer) approach. The current experiments attempted to determine the effects of conditional stimuli (both excitatory and inhibitory) on the expression of context-induced ethanol (EtOH)-seeking. Methods: Alcohol-preferring (P) rats self-administered EtOH and water in standard 2-lever operant chambers. A flavor was added to the EtOH solution (CS+) during the EtOH self-administration sessions. After 10 weeks, rats underwent extinction training (7 sessions), followed by a 2-week home cage period. Another flavor was present during extinction (CS-). Rats were exposed to a third flavor in a non-drug-paired environment (CS0). EtOH-seeking was assessed in the presence of no cue, CS+, CS-, or CS0 in the dipper previously associated with EtOH self-administration (no EtOH available). Rats were maintained a week in their home cage before being returned to the operant chambers with access to EtOH (flavored with no cue, CS+, CS-, or CS0). Results: The results indicated that the presence of the CS+ enhanced EtOH-seeking, while the presence of the CS- suppressed EtOH-seeking. Similarly, adding the CS- flavor to 15% EtOH reduced responding for EtOH while the CS+ enhanced responding for EtOH during relapse testing. Conclusions: Overall, the data indicate that conditional stimuli are effective at altering both EtOH-seeking behavior and EtOH-relapse drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-915
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Alcohol-Preferring (P) Rats
  • Conditioned Cues
  • Ethanol-Relapse
  • Ethanol-Seeking
  • Pavlovian Spontaneous Recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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