The question of whether ethanol has intrinsically rewarding properties, or whether, as a discriminative stimulus, it can become a conditioned reinforcer as a function of context association was examined. Paired rats consumed more of an ethanol solution than isolated rats over a 15 day 'conditioning' phase and their ingestion rate was increased significantly over the 15 day period. Furthermore, animals exposed to the solution with a conspecific companion during this conditioning phase subsequently showed a marked preference for ethanol over water throughout a 10 day test phase (when all animals were alone) compared to those with prior experience of the solution in isolation. Both groups consumed significantly more ethanol than the controls (with no prior ethanol experience at all) during this test phase. The results suggest that the total context of initial exposure to ethanol mediate its subsequent reinforcing properties, with the prior pleasurable context of being with a conspecific companion generalizing to the ethanol stimulus for the paired group.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Alcohol and Alcoholism|
|Publication status||Published - 1988|