Appetitive and Consummatory Behaviors in the Control of Ethanol Consumption: A Measure of Ethanol Seeking Behavior

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Models of ethanol self-administration in animals have demonstrated that ethanol can reinforce a variety of behaviors, independent of ethanol's caloric or fluid properties. However, the processes that control self-administration remain unclear. Determining factors related to ethanol seeking behavior, independent of consumption, is central to the concepts of intake regulation. The model described in this article proposes a method to separate the initial appetitive (seeking) behavior from the following consummatory (drinking) behavior to assess each behavior type. Rats were trained to lever press to gain access to a drinking tube connected to a fluid bottle containing either 10% ethanol or 3% sucrose for 20 min. When the response requirement to obtain access to the tube was increased, it was found that both solutions supported the same amount of responding (breakpoint was at approximately a fixed ratio 32 requirement), indicating equal reinforcer strength. However, regardless of the response requirement, if access to the fluids occurred, intakes were not changed. This suggests that factors besides those of reinforcer efficacy are important in controlling the size of the consummatory bout. Based on these findings, we believe that this model will be useful in determining factors related to seeking behaviors and the control of drinking bout size.

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