Extinction and spontaneous recovery of ataxic tolerance to ethanol in rats
The effects of ethanol on the inhibition of a learned response were examined in adult, male Wistar rats from two treatment groups: oral self-administration of alcoholic solution (10% ethanol and 10% glucose in distilled water) and oral self-administration of sweet solution (10% glucose in distilled water). Subjects were food deprived and alcoholic or control solutions were available 1 h per day during 15 days. After this period, rats were tested in a two-bottle paradigm during 1 h per day and placed in the operant chambers immediately afterward. This phase went on for 19 days. Subjects were trained to lever press for food and were tested in a continuous reinforcement schedule, operant extinction, successive discrimination, and two-stimuli tests. Alcohol impaired the ability to inhibit previously reinforced responses but only in situations indicated by exteroceptive stimuli. Ethanol intake did not impair the lever-press behavior neither in the acquisition of the response nor in the continuous reinforcement schedule. These data suggest that the sedative effects of alcohol at this dose were not apparent in reinforcement situations, in contrast with extinction situations.