Patterns of ethanol and saccharin intake in P rats under limited-access conditions

K. L. Nowak, D. L. McKinzie, W. J. McBride, J. M. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Patterns of drinking and responding for ethanol (EtOH) and saccharin (SACC) were examined in the alcohol-preferring P rat using various limited- access paradigms. Adult female P rats (n = 10-20) were given 2-h access to EtOH (10-13% v/v) and SACC (0.0125% g/v) concurrently each day, or each solution individually on alternate days. Total 2-h SACC intake was significantly greater than EtOH under both concurrent (12 ± 2 vs. 7 ± 0.8 ml, p < 0.05) and alternate-day access (18 ± 1.6 vs. 10 ± 0.5 ml) conditions. Under both conditions, however, EtOH intake (over 55% of the total) in the first 15 min was significantly greater than that of SACC (<25% of total). In an operant paradigm, total responding for EtOH (124 ± 29) and SACC (114 ± 7) under 2-h alternate-day conditions did not differ, but 65% of total EtOH responding occurred during the first 20 min versus less than 45% for SACC (p < 0.05). Increasing response requirements (FR-1 to FR-5) did not significantly alter the total number of EtOH reinforcements, but decreased the total number of SACC reinforcements by approximately 50% (p < 0.05). Increasing the EtOH concentration from 15% to 35% decreased the number of reinforcements approximately 50% but did not decrease the estimated g/kg EtOH intake. Increasing the SACC concentration from 0.0125% to 0.05%, however, nearly doubled the number of reinforcements. The greater preference for EtOH versus SACC during the initial part of the access period, together with the maintenance of EtOH intake in g/kg when the response requirements and the EtOH concentration were increased, suggests that EtOH intake is motivated by pharmacological consequences. Therefore, different motivational factors appear to underlie EtOH and SACC intake of the P rat. Furthermore, the pattern of EtOH intake and responding displayed by the P rat may be the result of a 'bout-' or 'binge-' like loss of control under restricted EtOH access conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 1999


  • Alcohol
  • Drinking
  • Drug reward
  • Limited-access
  • Loss-of- control
  • Motivation
  • Operant responding
  • Saccharin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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