Eight rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulata) were trained to self-administer orally delivered ethanol (8%) and saccharin (0.03 or 0.3% wt/vol) or water under concurrent fixed-ratio (FR) schedules. The FR requirement for saccharin was fixed at 32, while the FR for ethanol was varied (4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128) in a nonsystematic order to assess demand for drug. Demand was defined as consumption plotted as a function of price (FR). Income was defined as the duration of access to available resources. Income was varied by allowing access to the concurrently available liquids 20, 60 or 180 min per day. Order of testing was counter-balanced across monkeys. Saccharin deliveries were much higher than ethanol deliveries under the 180-min income condition; however, they were lower than ethanol deliveries when income was reduced to 20 min and the ethanol FR was 4, 8 or 16. Thus, when the price of drug was relatively low, consumption of drug exceeded that of the nondrug reinforcer, and that relationship was reversed as income decreased. Saccharin deliveries sustained a proportionally greater reduction due to decreased income compared to ethanol deliveries. As income decreased from 180 to 20 min, saccharin deliveries were reduced by an average of 79.1% (across ethanol FR conditions) while ethanol deliveries were reduced by an average of 41.2 and 40.8% when concurrent saccharin or water were available, respectively; thus, drug self-administration was more resistant to income changes than saccharin. The demand for ethanol was shifted downward in a parallel fashion as income decreased. As ethanol cost (FR) increased, there were proportionately greater decreases in ethanol intake when saccharin was concurrently available compared to when water was available. There was a 35-50% reduction in ethanol deliveries due to concurrent saccharin (versus water) at FR 4, compared to a 55-75% reduction at FR 128. Cost of ethanol (FR), income level and the availability of a nondrug reinforcer are all variables that modify ethanol-reinforced behavior, and income alters the relative preference for a drug versus nondrug reinforcer.
- Behavioral economics
- Rhesus monkeys