Habitual behavior does not require an explicit representation of the goal, but is triggered by automatic responses to the stimuli that previously were paired with alcohol reward. The exact time course of this transition has not been defined for alcohol self-administration, however, there are well-defined tests for whether instrumental behavior is goal-directed or habitual that can be used to determine whether or not self-administration is habitual. The current proposal seeks to test the hypothesis that alcohol self-administration after extended training will display the hallmarks of a habitual behavior. As conditioned cues also play a major role in relapse, we will also test the effects of alcohol-predictive cues after extended alcohol self-administration training. The reliance of alcohol-seeking, including that promoted by cues, on dorsal striatal circuitry will be probed.
It has long been hypothesized that alcohol- and drug-seeking becomes habitual over time;this is apparent in our colloquial use of the term `drug habit'. Therefore, understanding the transition of ethanol self-administration from goal-directed to habitual may provide information on the neurobiology that underlies the transition from casual ethanol use to addiction. These results will provide new information on the role of specific neural pathways in alcohol self-administration and increase our understanding of the behavioral mechanisms that underlie its intake. Therefore, these experiments will address an important lack in our basic knowledge of the neurobiology of alcohol addiction that will allow us to better design therapies for alcohol abuse.
|Corbit, Laura H; Janak, Patricia H (2010) Posterior dorsomedial striatum is critical for both selective instrumental and Pavlovian reward learning. Eur J Neurosci 31:1312-21|