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The Role of Drug Expectancy in the Control of Human Drug Seeking

By Lee Hogarth, Anthony Dickinson, Alexander Wright, Mariangela Kouvaraki and Theodora Duka


Human drug seeking may be goal directed in the sense that it is mediated by a mental representation of the drug or habitual in the sense that it is elicited by drug-paired cues directly. To test these 2 accounts, the authors assessed whether a drug-paired stimulus (S+) would transfer control to an independently trained drug-seeking response. Smokers were trained on an instrumental discrimination that established a tobacco S+ in Experiment 1 and a tobacco and a money S+ in Experiment 2 that elicited an expectancy of their respective outcomes. Participants then learned 2 new instrumental responses, 1 for each outcome, in the absence of these stimuli. Finally, in the transfer test, each S+ was found to augment performance of the new instrumental response that was trained with the same outcome. This outcome-specific transfer effect indicates that drug-paired stimuli controlled human drug seeking via a representation or expectation of the drug rather than through a direct stimulus-response association

Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1037/0097-7403.33.4.484
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