Alternative reinforcer response cost impacts methamphetamine choice in humans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Methamphetamine use disorders are a persistent public health concern. Behavioral treatments have demonstrated that providing access to non-drug alternative reinforcers reduces methamphetamine use. The purpose of this human laboratory experiment was to determine how changes in response cost for non-drug alternative reinforcers influenced methamphetamine choice. Seven subjects with past year histories of recreational stimulant use completed a placebo-controlled, crossover, double-blind protocol in which they first sampled doses of oral methamphetamine (0, 8 or 16 mg) and completed a battery of subject-rated and physiological measures. During subsequent sessions, subjects then made eight discrete choices between 1/8th of the sampled dose and an alternative reinforcer ($0.25). The response cost to earn a methamphetamine dose was always 500 responses (FR500). The response cost for the alternative reinforcer varied across sessions (FR500, FR1000, FR2000, FR3000). Methamphetamine functioned as a positive reinforcer and produced prototypical stimulant-like effects (e.g., elevated blood pressure, increased ratings of Stimulated). Choice for doses over money was sensitive to changes in response cost for alternative reinforcers in that more doses were taken at higher FR values than at lower FR values. Placebo choices changed as a function of alternative reinforcer response cost to a greater degree than active methamphetamine choices. These findings suggest that manipulating the effort necessary to earn alternative reinforcers could impact methamphetamine use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-486
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIDA grant R01 DA 025032 to CRR. This funding agency had no role in study design, data collection or analysis, or preparation and submission of the manuscript.


  • Alternative reinforcer
  • Humans
  • Methamphetamine
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Alternative reinforcer response cost impacts methamphetamine choice in humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this