Ambient Temperature Effects on Taste Aversion Conditioned by Ethanol: Contribution of Ethanol‐Induced Hypothermia

Christopher L. Cunningham, Jill S. Niehus, Joseph F. Bachtold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Six experiments examined the effects of low (5–10°C), normal (21°C), or high (32°) ambient temperature on conditioned taste aversion and body temperature changes produced by ethanol, lithium chloride, or morphine sulfate. Fluid‐deprived rats received five to seven taste conditioning trials at 48‐hr Intervals. On each trial, access to saccharin at normal ambient temperature was followed by injection of drug or saline and placement for 6 hr into a temperature‐controlled enclosure. Exposure to low ambient temperature facilitated, whereas exposure to high ambient temperature retarded acquisition of ethanol‐induced conditioned taste aversion. The ability of an alteration in ambient temperature to influence conditioned taste aversion varied as a function of ethanol dose and was related to ambient temperature's effect on ethanol‐induced hypothermia. More specifically, strength of conditioned taste aversion was negatively correlated with core body temperature after ethanol injection. Alterations in ambient temperature alone did not affect ingestion of a paired flavor solution in the absence of drug. Moreover, alterations in ambient temperature did not appear to influence conditioned taste aversion by changing ethanol pharmacokinetics. Finally, high and low ambient temperature did not affect development of taste aversion conditioned by lithium chloride or morphine sulfate. The overall pattern of data presented by these experiments supports the hypothesis that ambient‐temperature influences strength of ethanol‐induced conditioned taste aversion by altering the hypothermic response to ethanol. More generally, these data support the suggestion that body temperature change induced by ethanol is related to ethanol's aversive motivational effects and may be involved in modulating ethanol intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1117-1124
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1992


  • Body Temperature
  • Conditioned Taste Aversion
  • Lithium Chloride
  • Morphine
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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