Conditioned activation induced by ethanol: Role in sensitization and conditioned place preference

Christopher L. Cunningham, De Carlo Noble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Previous studies of ethanol-induced activation and place preference conditioning have shown that repeated exposure to ethanol produces sensitization to ethanol's locomotor activating effect in mice. This experiment was designed to determine whether the behavioral sensitization to ethanol that occurs during place preference conditioning is due to development of a Pavlovian conditioned activity response. Mice (DBA/2J) in the experimental group (BEFORE) received four pairings of a distinctive floor stimulus with ethanol (2 g/kg, IP); a different floor stimulus was paired with saline (counterbalanced). Mice in two control groups were exposed equally to each floor stimulus and were handled and injected as often as experimental mice. One control group (AFTER) always received ethanol in the home cage 1 h after exposure to the floor stimulus, while the other control group (NO-DRUG) never received ethanol during conditioning. BEFORE group mice showed a significant conditioned place preference, whereas control mice did not. Activity tests after saline or ethanol indicated higher activity levels in BEFORE mice compared to control mice, regardless of floor stimulus. Moreover, BEFORE mice were more active on their CS+ floor than on their CS- floor during saline tests; activity was equally elevated on both floors during ethanol tests. These results support the hypothesis that sensitization to ethanol's activating effect is mediated by Pavlovian conditioning. Further, they suggest that place conditioning established associative control by two kinds of stimuli; the specific tactile cues serving as CS+ and Cs- and the general environmental cues common to both CS+ and CS- trials. Finally, these data suggest that ethanol-induced conditioned place preference and behavioral sensitization to ethanol may be mediated by a common learning process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1992


  • Conditioned activation
  • Conditioned place preference
  • Ethanol
  • Inbred mice (DBA/2J)
  • Locomotor activity
  • Sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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