, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 103–107 | Cite as

Alcohol consumption following bidirectional shifts in body weight in rats

  • M. A. Linseman
  • S. Harding
Original Investigations


Weight restriction has frequently been used to induce consumption of pharmacologically significant amounts of alcohol by rats. When previously weight-restricted rats are fed ad lib., however, their alcohol consumption is substantially reduced. This could occur because weight restriction per se causes increased alcohol consumption, or because the stimulus conditions (in this case, largely interoceptive) that were originally associated with drinking have changed, resulting in a stimulus generalization decrement. The present experiment was designed to discriminate between these two possibilities. Two groups of animals, one at free-feeding weight (FFW) and one at 80% FFW were initially trained to drink alcohol in a limited access paradigm. Each group was then divided into two, such that one half remained at its original weight and the other was gradually shifted to the reverse feeding condition in a double cross-over design. When alcohol consumption was again stable the experimental groups were returned to their original weights. If the weight restriction hypothesis were true, animals should drink more when weight-reduced and less when at FFW. According to the stimulus generalization decrement hypothesis, drinking should decrease with any shift from their initial weight. The direction of the results was such as to support the weight restriction hypothesis, but the magnitude of the changes was greater than would be expected on the basis of the respective control groups, and the effects were often transient. In these ways the results more closely resembled positive and negative contrast effects that have traditionally been described following shifts in amount of reinforcement. Possible mechanisms and the importance of an animal's history as a determinant of alcohol consumption are discussed.

Key words

Alcohol Ethanol Drinking Self-administration Contrast effects Weight restriction 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beardsley PM, Lemaire GA, Meisch RA (1978) Ethanol-reinforced behavior in rats with concurrent access to food and water. Psychopharmacology 57:7–11Google Scholar
  2. Belenko S, Woods SC (1973) Physiological correlates of ethanol self-selection by rats. Physiol Psychol 1:155–157Google Scholar
  3. Carroll ME, Meisch RA (1984) Increased drug-reinforced behavior due to food deprivation. In: Thompson T, Dews PB, Barrett JE (eds) Advances in behavioral pharmacology, vol 4. Academic Press, New York, pp 47–88Google Scholar
  4. Cullen JW, Croes RA, Gillis RD (1973) Alcohol selection by rats after experience with a sapid alcohol-sucrose solution. Q J Stud Alc 34:769–773Google Scholar
  5. Curi R, Hall NS, Bazotte RB, Timo-Iaria C (1984) Metabolic performance of free fed rats subjected to prolonged fast as compared to the metabolic pattern in rats under long term food restriction. Physiol Behav 33:525–531Google Scholar
  6. Dietrich RA, Melchior C (1985) A critical assessment of animal models for testing new drugs for altering ethanol intake. In: Naranjo CA, Sellers EM (eds) Research advances in new psychopharmacological treatments for altering ethanol intake. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 23–41Google Scholar
  7. Flaherty CF (1982) Incentive contrast: a review of the behavioral changes following shifts in reward. Anim Learn Behav 10:409–440Google Scholar
  8. Gonzalez RC, Glickman H, Bitterman ME (1962) Some observations on the depression effect. J Comp Physiol Psychol 55:578–581Google Scholar
  9. Kling JW, Schrier AM (1971) Positive reinforcement. In: Kling JW, Riggs LA (eds) Woodworth and Schlossberg's Experimental psychology, 3rd edn. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. New York, pp 615–702Google Scholar
  10. Lester D, Freed EX (1971) The rat views alcohol—nutrition or nirvana? In: Forsander O, Eriksson K (eds) Proceedings of an international symposium on biological aspects of alcohol consumption. Helsinki, Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies, pp 51–57Google Scholar
  11. Linseman MA (1987) Alcohol consumption in free-feeding rats: Procedural, genetic and pharmacokinetic factors. Psychopharmacology 92:254–261Google Scholar
  12. Lundquist G (1955) The craving for alcohol. Q J Stud Alc 16:42–46Google Scholar
  13. Marcucella H, Munro I (1986) Patterns of ethanol and water consumption as a function of restricted alcohol access and feeding condition. Psychopharmacology 89:145–149Google Scholar
  14. Meisch RA (1984) Alcohol self-administration by experimental animals. In: Smart RG, Glaser FB, Israel Y, Cappell H, Kalant H, Schmidt W, Sellers EM (eds) Research advances in alcohol and drug problems, vol 8. Plenum Press, New York, pp 23–45Google Scholar
  15. Meisch RA, Thompson T (1974) Ethanol intake as a function of concentration during food deprivation and satiation. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2:589–596Google Scholar
  16. Olds J (1958) Effects of hunger and male sex hormone on self-stimulation of the brain. J Comp Physiol Psychol 51:320–324Google Scholar
  17. Richter CP (1957) Production and control of alcoholic cravings in rats. In: HA Abramson (ed) Neuropharmacology, Transactions of the third conference. Madison Printing, Madison New Jersey, pp 39–146Google Scholar
  18. Stewart RB, Grupp LA (1984) A simplified procedure for producing ethanol self-selection in rats. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 21:255–258Google Scholar
  19. Westerfield WW, Lawrow JL (1953) The effect of caloric restriction and thiamin deficiency on voluntary consumption of alcohol by rats. Q J Stud Alc 14:378–384Google Scholar
  20. Wise RA, Bozarth MA (1987) A psychomotor stimulant theory of addiction. Psychol Rev 94:469–492Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. Linseman
    • 1
  • S. Harding
    • 1
  1. 1.Biobehavioral Research DepartmentAddiction Research FoundationTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations