The present series of experiments examined affective properties of a moderate dose of ethanol using the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm in ethanol-naïve, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. The apparatus and the procedure used were both unbiased. In Experiment 1, rats were given four 30 min conditioning sessions with 1.5 g/kg ethanol (i.p.) or an equivalent volume of saline on the paired side. Animals were found to demonstrate CPP to the ethanol-paired side, an unexpected finding at this relatively high dose in rats. To replicate this finding, and to examine the possibility of non-associative conditioning, an unpaired control group was included in Experiment 2. Once again, rats showed a CPP to the side paired with ethanol relative to either control group. Given that testing in an unfamiliar environment typically results in elevated levels of anxiety and that animals in Experiments 1 and 2 were not exposed to the apparatus prior to conditioning, Experiment 3 was conducted to examine the potential role of context unfamiliarity for induction of ethanol CPP in this test situation by varying whether animals were exposed to the apparatus prior to conditioning. In this study, pre-exposure to the CPP apparatus was found to eliminate the CPP to ethanol observed in rats who were not familiarized with the apparatus. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that ethanol-naïve rats can find ethanol reinforcing as indexed by the CPP test, and provide some evidence for the conditions under which this uncommon finding is observed.
Published by Elsevier Inc.