Replicability in measures of attentional set-shifting task performance predicting chronic heavy drinking in rhesus monkeys

Alcohol. 2021 Nov:96:93-98. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2021.08.006. Epub 2021 Sep 9.


This study was designed to replicate and extend a previous report that the increase in performance of an attentional set-shifting task (ASST) in rhesus monkeys predicted their future alcohol drinking status as a heavy drinker (HD) or non-heavy drinker (NHD). A cohort of 6 young adult male monkeys was trained and tested under the same ASST and then underwent a alcohol self-administration protocol that maintained open-access (22 hours/day) choice of alcohol or water 7 days/week for approximately 6 months. The average improvement in performance in the ASST, as measured by a performance index, was replicated in the cohort of 6 monkeys when compared to the increase in the task performance in a previous cohort of 9 male monkeys. The alcohol self-administration protocol was then used to determine the drinking status (HD: n = 4 or NHD: n = 2) of the replicate cohort, which was accurately predicted by the performance on the ASST. Finally, individuals from both cohorts could be combined based on future drinking status of HD (n = 8) or NHD (n = 7), and the association with pre-alcohol ASST performance remained. Specifically, monkeys that had lower rates of PI improvement were more likely to become HDs. To our knowledge, this is the first study to replicate that deficits in the set-shifting performance can predict chronic heavy alcohol drinking in primates.

Keywords: Alcohol self-administration; Behavioral flexibility; Rhesus monkeys; Set-shift.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Alcoholic Intoxication*
  • Animals
  • Ethanol
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Task Performance and Analysis*


  • Ethanol