5 years ago

Steep effort discounting of a preferred reward over a freely-available option in prolonged methamphetamine withdrawal in male rats

Alicia Izquierdo, Julian Gerson, Evan E. Hart, Alexandra Stolyarova, Andrew B. Thompson, J. David Jentsch, Amador Bugarin



Drug addiction can be described as aberrant allocation of effort toward acquiring drug, despite associated costs. It is unclear if this behavioral pattern results from an overvaluation of reward or to an altered sensitivity to costs.


Present experiments assessed reward sensitivity and effortful choice in rats following 1 week of withdrawal from methamphetamine (mAMPH).


Rats were treated with either saline or an escalating dose mAMPH regimen, then tested after a week without the drug. In experiment 1, rats were given a free choice between water and various concentrations of sucrose solution to assess general reward sensitivity. In experiment 2, rats were presented with a choice between lever-pressing for sucrose pellets on a progressive ratio schedule or consuming freely-available chow.


In experiment 1, we found no differences in sucrose preference between mAMPH- and saline-pretreated rats. In experiment 2, when selecting between two options, mAMPH-pretreated rats engaged in less lever-pressing for sucrose pellets (p < 0.01) and switched from this preferred reward to the chow sooner than saline-pretreated rats (p < 0.05). This effect was not consistent with general reward devaluation or loss of motivation.


These findings demonstrate that mAMPH exposure and withdrawal lead to steeper discounting of reward value by effort, an effect that is consistent with the effect of mAMPH on discounting by delay, and which may reflect an underlying shared mechanism.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-017-4656-z

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-017-4656-z

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