Discriminative stimulus effects of alcohol in humans

Thomas H. Kelly, Cleeve S. Emurian, Bryan J. Baseheart, Catherine A. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The discriminative stimulus effects of alcohol were examined in 11 healthy moderate alcohol users. Study days occurred 5 days per week for 12-25 total days. Each day, participants completed visual-analog reports of drug effect and drug-discrimination tasks at 30-min intervals for 2.5 h following oral alcohol administration. Participants completed three phases. During the training phase, which occurred on the first 4 study days, participants were trained to discriminate color-coded placebo and alcohol doses (0 vs. 0.45 g per liter of body water (g/lbw)). Participants then completed a control phase, during which accurate drug-discrimination performance was verified. Finally, participants completed a testing phase, during which both training and intermediate doses (0.15 and 0.30 g/lbw) were administered. During the testing phase, 25 and 100% of responses occurred on the alcohol key at the 0- and 0.45-g/lbw doses, respectively, indicating that discrimination responding remained intact. At the low dose (0.15 g/lbw), 25% of the subjects responded on the alcohol key, whereas 75% of the subjects responded on the alcohol key at the moderate dose (0.30 g/lbw), indicating dose-related generalization to the training doses. These results confirm cross-species generality in the discriminative stimulus effects of alcohol, and further establishes the utility of human laboratory drug-discrimination procedures for analysis of the functional effects of alcohol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 15 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by NIDA grant DA 09098 and NIAAA grant AA-09679. The authors wish to thank Jeannie Burt for technical support during the study. A preliminary report of these data was presented at the 1996 Annual Meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism. The authors also wish to acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Jonathan Kamien, and two anonymous reviewers, in the revision of the manuscript.


  • Alcohol
  • Discriminative stimulus effect
  • Functional effects
  • Human

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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