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Effects of Negative Consequences on Drug Self Administration in Rats

The primary objective of this research was to develop a rodent model of self administration (SA) in which drug consumption has delayed negative consequences. SA procedures in which the animals make responses that are reinforced by IV drug injections are widely used and are perhaps the most convincing non-human animal models of drug abuse. Non-human animal SA models, however, may not model important aspects of human drug SA. In humans, impulsivity is considered an important component of drug abuse because individuals take drugs despite the knowledge of negative (often delayed) outcome associated with drug use. In contrast, standard laboratory animal models of SA have no explicit negative outcomes associated with the SA of the drug. Because there are currently no SA models that incorporate negative consequences, the impact of negative outcomes is not generally incorporated into current ideas about the underlying behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms mediating drug abuse. This study will advance our understanding of drug abuse by determining if punishment or delays to punishment have similar (or dissimilar) effects on drug and natural reinforcers of equivalent reinforcing efficacy. The results will help to determine if a “punished” SA model is a valuable tool with which to investigate the behavioral and cognitive regulation of drug abuse by negative consequences. Funded by a grant of $431,356 from NIDA. This project is supported through funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), 2009-2011.