Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #131
Choice Between Drug and Non-Drug Reinforcers: Effects of Delay Discounting, Drug Cues, and Pharmacological Interventions
Saturday, May 25, 2019
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Swissôtel, Lucerne Ballroom Level, Alpine 1/2
Area: BPN/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Raymond C. Pitts (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Discussant: Raymond C. Pitts (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Abstract: Certain drugs (e.g., cocaine) can function as potent reinforcers in both humans and non-humans. Choice procedures have been extremely useful in characterizing the reinforcing functions of drugs, understanding the conditions under which drugs serve as reinforcers, and, in turn, understanding variables that contribute to substance abuse. Presenters in this symposium will explore the use of choice procedures to examine variables that impact the relative values of drug and non-drug reinforcers in non-human primates and in humans. These variables include: delays between the choice and presentation of the drug or non-drug reinforcer, drug-related cues, pharmacological interventions, and sensitivity to losses. Understanding effects of these variables on the relative value of drug and non-drug reinforcers will have translational value in the treatment of substance abuse.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Alternative Reinforcers, Choice, Delay Discounting, Drug Reinforcers
Delay Discounting of Food and Cocaine in Male Rhesus Monkeys
(Basic Research)
SALLY L. HUSKINSON (University of Mississippi Medical Center), Joel Myerson (Washington University), Leonard Green (Washington University in St. Louis), James K. Rowlett (University of Mississippi Medical Center), Kevin B. Freeman (University of Mississippi Medical Center)
Abstract: Most delay-discounting studies have presented choices between an immediate and delayed reinforcer of the same type (e.g., food vs. food). However, choices between different types of reinforcers (e.g., food vs. drug) are important for drug abuse. Choice between immediate cocaine and delayed food exemplifies drug abuse from the typical delay-discounting perspective: individuals choose more immediate drug effects over presumably more valuable, but delayed, nondrug alternatives. We find relatively steep discounting in this situation. The reverse situation, choice between delayed cocaine and immediate food, is also critical to study because considerable time often elapses between choosing to take a drug and actually obtaining it, and we find discounting is relatively shallow when cocaine is delayed. These findings demonstrate that degree of discounting is context dependent, which represents a critical difference between drug vs. nondrug discounting and discounting when the immediate and delayed reinforcers are the same. We are currently developing a more rapid procedure for measuring delay discounting which yields discounting functions in half the time taken in previous studies, and which will greatly increase the efficiency of future research on the role of discounting in drug abuse. A key determination will be comparing the qualitative and quantitative similarities between these two approaches.
Drug and Alternative Reinforcer Choice in Humans: Influence of Pharmacological Pretreatment, Cues, Delay and Loss Sensitivity
(Applied Research)
William Stoops (University of Kentucky), Justin Strickland (University of Kentucky), JOSHUA LILE (University of Kentucky)
Abstract: Decisions to take drugs are influenced by numerous factors in humans. This talk will present results from controlled human laboratory studies that have evaluated a number of determinants of drug and alternative reinforcer choice. Specific determinants covered will include the influence of pharmacological pretreatment (i.e., putative pharmacotherapies) on cocaine versus money choice (see Figure 1 for an example), the role of drug cues in choice of monetary alternatives, the impact of delay and pharmacological pretreatment on choice to engage in sexual behavior and how sensitivity to loss impacts drug and alternative reinforcer choice. The overarching goal of this presentation is to demonstrate the multi-faceted nature of drug and alternative reinforcer choice in humans in order to better design interventions to change behavior.



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