Delay discounting describes the devaluation of consequences (gains and losses) because they are delayed. A large literature indicates that steep delay discounting (i.e., extreme devaluation of delayed outcomes) is correlated with addictive disorders such as pathological gambling and substance abuse. What has yet to be investigated is if experimentally produced changes in delay discounting can affect subsequent gambling and drug taking. If decreasing the degree to which delayed outcomes are discounted decreases subsequent addictive activities, then new discounting-based techniques for the treatment and prevention of addictions might gainfully be pursued. In this New Investigator RO1, we will experimentally manipulate delay discounting in rats. In each experiment this will be accomplished by exposing an experimental group of rats to an extended-duration training regimen designed to decrease the degree to which these rats discount delayed food rewards. A control group of rats will complete the same number of sessions but will not receive the training designed to decrease discounting. Each of the training regimens, when acutely administered, has significantly affected delay discounting, but little is known about the lasting effects of these regimens and nothing is known about their ability to affect subsequent addiction-related behavior. Thus, after the effects of each training regimen on delay discounting are assessed, we will compare experimental and control rats on how strongly they prefer gambling-like rewards (vs. predictable sources of food) and ethanol self administration. If experimentally induced decreases in delay discounting also decrease addiction-related behavior, then this project will have important implications for basic and applied research of relevance to the mission of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Public Health Relevance

Considerable empirical evidence has revealed that individuals diagnosed with pathological gambling and/or a substance-use-disorder more steeply devalue delayed events than matched non-gamblers or non-drug-users. The proposed research will experimentally decrease this form of impulsivity (relative to a control group) and will evaluate if this affects subsequent gambling-related and drug-taking activities. Experimentally decreasing impulsivity, and perhaps addictive behavior, is of great relevance to the public-health goals of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Biobehavioral Regulation, Learning and Ethology Study Section (BRLE)
Program Officer
Schnur, Paul
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Utah State University
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United States
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Stein, Jeffrey S; Renda, C Renee; Hinnenkamp, Jay E et al. (2015) Impulsive choice, alcohol consumption, and pre-exposure to delayed rewards: II. Potential mechanisms. J Exp Anal Behav 103:33-49
Renda, C Renee; Stein, Jeffrey S; Madden, Gregory J (2015) Working-memory training: effects on delay discounting in male Long Evans rats. J Exp Anal Behav 103:50-61
Craig, Andrew R; Maxfield, Adam D; Stein, Jeffrey S et al. (2014) Do the adjusting-delay and increasing-delay tasks measure the same construct: delay discounting? Behav Pharmacol 25:306-15
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Stein, Jeffrey S; Johnson, Patrick S; Renda, C Renee et al. (2013) Early and prolonged exposure to reward delay: effects on impulsive choice and alcohol self-administration in male rats. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 21:172-80
Stein, Jeffrey S; Smits, Rochelle R; Johnson, Patrick S et al. (2013) Effects of reward bundling on male rats' preference for larger-later food rewards. J Exp Anal Behav 99:150-8
Madden, Gregory J; Francisco, Monica T; Brewer, Adam T et al. (2011) Delay discounting and gambling. Behav Processes 87:43-9