Initiation of Ethanol Reinforcement using a Sucrose-Substitution Procedure in Food- and Water-Sated Rats


  • Herman H. Samson PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Institute and the Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • This research was supported in part by grants from the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Institute of the University of Washington and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (K02 AA00O66). Supported by Research Scientist Development A ward K02 AA 00066 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

  • Copyright © 1986 by The American Medical Society on Alcoholism and The Research Society on Alcoholism.

2 Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Institute NL-15. University of Washington, 3937 15th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105.


Rats, maintained on free access to both food and water, were trained to press a lever to obtain a 20% sucrose solution. When presentation of the sucrose solution was maintaining responding, low ethanol concentrations were added to the solution. Over 25 sessions, the solution presented as reinforcement was gradually reduced in sucrose concentration until a 10% ethanol solution with no sucrose was presented. Following this initiation procedure, ethanol concentrations up to and including 40% ethanol were found to maintain responding. At the higher ethanol concentrations, the rats consumed doses of ethanol between 0.90 and 0.95 g/kg in the 30-min session. When a concurrent choice between ethanol and water was available in the operant chamber, the rats responded on the lever associated with 10% ethanol presentation. Home cage preference between ethanol and water was found to be altered following the operant ethanol experience with the rats acceptability for 10% ethanol increased prior to the start of the experiment This initiation procedure provides another manner in which ethanol reinforcement can be instigated in animals that have not been either food- or fluid-deprived. It is hypothesized that mechanisms which may regulate the intravascular and intragastric self-administration of ethanol may also be operating when the oral route is employed.