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Rats learning to work for alcohol


IF animals are to be used in the study of alcoholism, it is important that they show characteristics similar to human alcoholics. It has been demonstrated that animals can show tolerance and withdrawal symptoms to alcohol1: therefore, animals can legitimately be used to study these aspects. There has, however, been little evidence that animals develop the most important factor in alcoholism, a strong motivation to obtain alcohol for drinking. As there have been no demonstrations of animals learning a new response, or even continuing to make a previously learned response, to obtain drinking alcohol, in the presence of food and water ad libitum, it has been possible to claim that their alcohol consumption is ‘accidental and inadvertent’2. If this were true, experiments on voluntary alcohol drinking by animals would be of little value for generalising to humans.

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SINCLAIR, J. Rats learning to work for alcohol. Nature 249, 590–592 (1974).

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