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Resurgence of Alcohol Seeking Produced by Discontinuing Non-Drug Reinforcement as an Animal Model of Drug Relapse
Behavioural Pharmacology (2006)
  • Cristopher A. Podlesnik
  • Corina Jimenez-Gomez
  • Timothy A. Shahan, Utah State University

Findings from basic behavioral research suggest that simply discontinuing reinforcement for a recently reinforced operant response can cause the recurrence (i.e. resurgence) of a different previously reinforced response. The present experiment examined resurgence as an animal model of drug relapse. Initially, rats pressed levers to self-administer alcohol during baseline conditions. Next, alcohol self-administration was discontinued and non-drug reinforcers (food pellets) were presented contingent on an alternative response (chain pulling). Finally, when the non-drug reinforcer was discontinued, alcohol seeking recurred even though alcohol was still unavailable for lever pressing. These results suggest that simply discontinuing non-drug reinforcement for a behavior may be sufficient to produce relapse to drug seeking. The resurgence procedure could provide a method to examine environmental, pharmacological, and neurobiological factors that lead to relapse following the loss of a non-drug source of reinforcement.

  • resurgence,
  • alcohol seeking,
  • discontinuing,
  • non-drug reinforcement,
  • animal model,
  • drug relapse
Publication Date
January 1, 2006
Publisher Statement
Originally published by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. Abstract available through remote link. Subscription required to access article fulltext.
Citation Information
Podlesnik, C. A., Jimenez-Gomez, C, & Shahan, T. A. (2006). Resurgence of alcohol seeking produced by discontinuing non-drug reinforcement as an animal model of drug relapse, Behavioural Pharmacology, 17, 369-374.