Rationale: Behavior occurring during cocaine self-administration can be classified as either consummatory or appetitive. These two concepts are usually addressed independently using separate reinforcement schedules. For example, appetitive behavior can be assessed with a progressive ratio schedule, whereas consummatory behavior is typically measured using a fixed ratio schedule.
Objectives: Depending on the schedule used, it is often difficult to determine whether a particular drug pretreatment is affecting self-administration through an effect on appetitive responding, consummatory responding, or perhaps both. In the present study, we tested the effect of pretreating rats with four different drugs on appetitive and consummatory behaviors.
Materials and methods: We recently developed a technique that provides an independent assessment of both behavioral concepts within the same experimental session. In this threshold procedure, rats are offered a descending series of 11 unit doses (422-1.3 μg/injection) during consecutive timed intervals under a fixed-ratio schedule. Consummatory behavior can be analyzed by assessing intake at high unit doses; an estimate of appetitive responding can be determined from responding occurring at the threshold dose. Applying behavioral economics to these data provides dependent measures of consumption when minimally constrained by price and the maximal price paid (P (max)) for cocaine.
Results: Haloperidol increased cocaine consumption when minimally constrained by price but decreased P (max). In contrast, D: -amphetamine increased P (max). Fluoxetine decreased P (max) and consumption when minimally constrained by price. Baclofen selectively decreased P (max).
Conclusions: These data suggest that drug pretreatments can alter consummatory and appetitive behavior differently because each concept involves distinct neural mechanisms.