Operant responding for alcohol following alcohol cue exposure in social drinkers

Nicholas Van Dyke, Mark T. Fillmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Introduction: Cue reactivity paradigms have found that alcohol-related cues increase alcohol consumption in heavy drinkers and alcoholics. However, evidence of this relationship among non-alcohol dependent "social" drinkers is mixed, suggesting that individual differences must be considered when examining cue-induced drinking behavior. One important individual difference factor that might contribute to cue-induced drinking in the laboratory is the amount of alcohol that participants typically drink during occasions outside the laboratory. That is, those who typically consume more alcohol per occasion could display greater cue-induced drinking than those who typically drink less. The present study examined this hypothesis in healthy, non-dependent beer drinkers. Methods: The drinkers were exposed to either a series of beer images intended to prime their motivation to drink beer or to a series of non-alcoholic images of food items that served as a control condition. Following cue exposure, motivation to drink was measured by giving participants an opportunity to work for glasses of beer by performing an operant response task. Results: Results indicated that drinkers exposed to alcohol cues displayed greater operant responding for alcohol and earned more drinks compared with those exposed to non-alcohol (i.e., food) cues. Moreover, individual differences in drinking habits predicted subjects' responding for alcohol following exposure to the alcohol cues, but not following exposure to food cues. Conclusions: The findings suggest that cue-induced drinking in non-dependent drinkers likely results in consumption levels commensurate with their typical consumption outside the laboratory, but not excessive consumption that is sometimes observed in alcohol-dependent samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by NIAAA grant R01 AA018274 and NIDA grant T32 DA035200 . These agencies had no further role in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Alcohol
  • Craving
  • Cue reactivity
  • Drinking habits
  • Operant
  • Social drinkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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