A constraint upon intravenous drug self-administration techniques is that they are suitable only for assessing positively reinforcing consequences of drug action; they do not permit a distinction among several possible explanations for reduced or zero rates of self-administration by animals. The possibility that there is a significant punishing component to drug administration was investigated in an aversive taste conditioning paradigm. Mescaline, which is refused by monkeys, and d-amphetamine, which is self-administered by both rats and monkeys, were compared. Five min after drinking saccharin solution for the first time, groups of rats were injected intraperitoneally with saline or different doses of each drug. Conditioned taste aversion was clearly demonstrated with both drugs; on a second exposure to saccharin solution, fluid consumption was greatly depressed compared to control values. This was true even with a dose of d-amphetamine (2 mg/kg) known to be self-administered by rats. The results suggest that intravenous drug self-administration may involve a punishing component which is detectable only in an appropriate behavioral test. It was also noted that aversive taste conditioning was demonstrable at doses frequently used in behavioral pharmacological investigations.
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Cappell, H., LeBlanc, A.E. Conditioned aversion to saccharin by single administrations of mescaline and d-amphetamine. Psychopharmacologia 22, 352–356 (1971). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00406873
- Aversive Taste Conditioning