Motivational properties of ethanol in mice selectively bred for ethanol-induced locomotor differences

Fred O. Risinger, Dorcas H. Malott, Liesl K. Prather, Douglas R. Niehus, Christopher L. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Ethanol-induced locomotor stimulation has been proposed to be positively correlated with the rewarding effects of ethanol (Wise and Bozarth 1987). The present experiments provided a test of this hypothesis using a genetic model. Three behavioral indices of the motivational effects of ethanol (drinking, taste conditioning, place conditioning) were examined in mice from two independent FAST lines, selectively bred for sensitivity to ethanol-induced locomotor stimulation, and mice from two independent SLOW lines, selectively bred for insensitivity to ethanol-induced locomotor stimulation. In a single-bottle procedure, mice were allowed access to drinking tubes containing ethanol in a concentration (1-12% v/v) that increased over 24 consecutive days. FAST mice consumed greater amounts of ethanol solution. In a two-bottle procedure, mice were allowed access to tubes containing water or various concentrations of ethanol (2-8% v/v) over 6 days. FAST mice generally showed greater preference for ethanol solutions than SLOW mice. In a conditioned taste aversion procedure, mice received access to saccharin solution followed by injection of 2.5 g/kg ethanol (IP). SLOW mice developed aversion to the saccharin flavor more readily than FAST mice. In a series of place conditioning experiments, tactile stimuli were paired with various doses of ethanol (0.8-2.0 g/kg). During conditioning, FAST mice showed locomotor stimulation after 1.0, 1.2 and 2.0 g/kg ethanol while SLOW mice did not. During testing, mice conditioned with 1.2 g/kg and 2.0 g/kg ethanol showed conditioned place preference, but there were no line differences in magnitude of preference. These results indicate that genetic selection for sensitivity to ethanol-stimulated activity has resulted in genetic differences in ethanol drinking and ethanol-induced conditioned taste aversion but not ethanol-induced conditioned place preference. Overall, these data provide mixed support for the psychomotor stimulant theory of addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-216
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Conditioned place preference
  • Conditioned taste aversion
  • Drinking
  • Ethanol
  • Locomotor activity
  • Mice
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Reward
  • Selective breeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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