Human drug seeking may be goal directed in the sense that it is mediated by a mental representation of the drug or habitual in the sense that it is elicited by drug-paired cues directly. To test these 2 accounts, the authors assessed whether a drug-paired stimulus (S+) would transfer control to an independently trained drug-seeking response. Smokers were trained on an instrumental discrimination that established a tobacco S+ in Experiment 1 and a tobacco and a money S+ in Experiment 2 that elicited an expectancy of their respective outcomes. Participants then learned 2 new instrumental responses, 1 for each outcome, in the absence of these stimuli. Finally, in the transfer test, each S+ was found to augment performance of the new instrumental response that was trained with the same outcome. This outcome-specific transfer effect indicates that drug-paired stimuli controlled human drug seeking via a representation or expectation of the drug rather than through a direct stimulus-response association.
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