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The effects of ethanol on diverse components of choice in the rat: Reward discrimination, preference and relative valuation
European Journal of Neuroscience (2017)
  • Howard C Cromwell
  • Justin J McGraw, Bowling Green State University
  • Luke Zona, Bowling Green State University
Alcohol consumption impairs judgment and choice. How alcohol alters these crucial processes is primarily unknown. Choice can be fractionated into different components including reward discrimination, preference and relative valuation that can function together or in isolation depending upon diverse factors including choice context. We examined the diverse components and contextual effects by analyzing the effects of alcohol drinking on choice behavior in a task with a reduced level of temporal and spatial constraints. Rats were trained to drink 10% ethanol during 6 weeks of behavior testing using a combined sucrose-fade and two-bottle free-choice procedure. Two different sucrose pellet outcomes (e.g., constant vs. variable) were presented each week to examine the impact of voluntary drinking on reward-based decision-making. Behavioral contexts of single option, free choice and extinction were examined for each outcome set. Comparisons were made between alcohol and control groups and within the alcohol group over time to inspect choice profiles. Between-group results showed alcohol drinking animals expressed altered place preference, and modified sucrose reward approach latencies. The within-group profile showed that alcohol drinking animals can express adequate reward discrimination, preference, and incentive contrast during free choice. All of these components were significantly reduced during the context of extinction. Control animals were also impacted by extinction but not as severely. The findings point to a need for a greater focus on the context and the diverse components of choice when examining external and internal factors influencing decision-making during alcohol or other substance of abuse exposure
Publication Date
Summer July, 2017
Citation Information
Howard C Cromwell, Justin J McGraw and Luke Zona. "The effects of ethanol on diverse components of choice in the rat: Reward discrimination, preference and relative valuation" European Journal of Neuroscience (2017)
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