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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior





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An extensive body of research using concurrent-chains schedules of reinforcement has shown that choice for one of two differentially valued food-associated stimuli is dependent upon the overall temporal context in which those stimuli are embedded. The present experiments examined whether the concurrent chains procedure was useful for the study of behavior maintained by alcohol and alcohol-associated stimuli. In Experiment 1, rats responded on concurrent-chains schedules with equal variable-interval (VI) 10-s schedules in the initial links. Across conditions, fixed-interval schedules in the terminal links were varied to yield 1:1, 9:1, and 1:9 ratios of alcohol delivery. Initial-link response rates reflected changes in terminal-link schedules, with greater relative responding in the rich terminal link. In Experiment 2, terminal-link schedules remained constant with a 9:1 ratio of alcohol delivery rates while the length of two equal duration initial-link schedules was varied. Preference for the rich terminal link was less extreme when initial links were longer (i.e., the initial-link effect), as has been previously reported with food reinforcers. This result suggests that the conditioned reinforcing value of an alcohol associated stimulus depends on the temporal context in which it is embedded. The concurrent-chains procedure and quantitative models of concurrent chains performance may provide a useful framework within which to study how contextual variables modulate preference for drug-associated conditioned reinforcers.