Effects of acute and repeated administration of caffeine on temporal discounting in rats

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Abstract

Delay to presentation is one variable that can weaken the reinforcing efficacy of an outcome in a choice situation and drugs have been shown to modify such choices. A growing body of literature has examined effects of stimulant drugs on temporal (delay) discounting, but effects of caffeine, the most widely used stimulant in the world, have not previously been assessed. In the present experiment, effects of caffeine (administered acutely and repeatedly) on temporal discounting were analyzed. Male Sprague–Dawley rats (n=7) chose between a single food pellet delivered immediately after a lever press and three food pellets delivered after a delay. The delay to the three pellets increased within each session, from 0 to 16 s. High doses of caffeine increased large-reinforcer choice relative to control conditions. With repeated caffeine exposure, percent choice for the large reinforcer decreased relative to acute administration, but was still greater than pre-drug baseline. Following withdrawal of drug administration, choice returned to levels seen during pre-drug baseline. Reintroduction of caffeine increased the percent choice for a larger, delayed reinforcer to near acute levels. The results from the present study are consistent with previous research in which stimulant drugs have decreased temporal (delay) discounting.

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