Differences in impulsivity on a delay-discounting task predict self-administration of a low unit dose of methylphenidate in rats

Behav Pharmacol. 2009 Sep;20(5-6):447-54. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e328330ad6d.


There is controversy about the abuse liability of methylphenidate (MPH) in humans, and MPH has yet to be established fully as a reinforcer in rats. The present experiment examined whether intravenous MPH served as a reinforcer in rats, and how individual differences in impulsivity impacted MPH self-administration. Rats were exposed to a delay-discounting procedure, and then were implanted with an intravenous catheter to assess self-administration of 0.56 mg/kg/infusion MPH at different fixed ratio values. Self-administration rates of different MPH doses (0.03-1.0 mg/kg/infusion) were also examined. Both high and low impulsive rats acquired MPH self-administration at the same rate. All rats pressed more on the active lever than the inactive lever regardless of MPH dose, and pressed more for MPH than for saline. High impulsive rats self-administered more MPH than low impulsive rats at a low unit dose (0.1 mg/kg/infusion), though not at higher doses, indicating that individual differences in impulsive choice influence the dose-dependent reinforcing effects of MPH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Choice Behavior / drug effects*
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Extinction, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Reinforcement Schedule
  • Self Administration / methods
  • Time Factors


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate