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Loss of nondrug reinforcement in one context produces alcohol seeking in another context

Pyszczynski, Adam D.; Shahan, Timothy A.

doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e328364502a
Research Reports

In the resurgence preparation, extinguished alcohol-maintained responding increases when food reinforcement introduced into the same context during extinction is also subsequently removed. However, drug and nondrug reinforcers may often be obtained in separate specific contexts. Accordingly, we aimed to determine whether extinguished behavior previously maintained by alcohol would increase upon elimination of nondrug reinforcement within a multiple schedule arranging distinct discriminative stimulus contexts of food and alcohol availability. In Experiment 1, rats earned food or alcohol in alternating stimulus contexts within a multiple schedule. First, alcohol-maintained responding was extinguished and then food deliveries in the alternating component were also discontinued. Extinguished alcohol-maintained responding increased upon discontinuation of food deliveries. However, periods of alcohol availability alternated with periods of extinction during a portion of training; thus, elimination of food reinforcers during the resurgence test may have inadvertently served as a cue for alcohol availability. In Experiment 2, the training phase that complicated interpretation of the results of Experiment 1 was eliminated. Alcohol-maintained responding again increased when food-maintained responding was placed on extinction in the other component. The present results indicate that loss of nondrug reinforcement in one discriminative context can increase extinguished alcohol seeking in another context and that multiple schedules of reinforcement might be useful for examining such effects.

Department of Psychology, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA

Correspondence to Timothy A. Shahan, PhD, Department of Psychology, 2810 Old Main Hill, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA E-mail:

Received February 10, 2013

Accepted June 15, 2013

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins