Amphetamine primes enhanced motivation toward uncertain choices in rats with genetic alcohol preference

  • Ville Oinio
  • Mikko Sundström
  • Pia Bäckström
  • Johanna Uhari-Väänänen
  • Kalervo Kiianmaa
  • Atso Raasmaja
  • Petteri Piepponen
Original Investigation



Comorbidity with gambling disorder (GD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) is well documented.


The purpose of our study was to examine the influence of genetic alcohol drinking tendency on reward-guided decision making behavior of rats and the impact of dopamine releaser D-amphetamine on this behavior.


In this study, Alko alcohol (AA) and Wistar rats went through long periods of operant lever pressing training where the task was to choose the profitable of two options. The lever choices were guided by different-sized sucrose rewards (one or three pellets), and the probability of gaining the larger reward was slowly changed to a level where choosing the smaller reward would be the most profitable in the long run. After training, rats were injected (s.c.) with dopamine releaser D-amphetamine (0.3, 1.0 mg/kg) to study the impact of rapid dopamine release on this learned decision making behavior.


Administration of D-amphetamine promoted unprofitable decision making of AA rats more robustly when compared to Wistar rats. At the same time, D-amphetamine reduced lever pressing responses. Interestingly, we found that this reduction in lever pressing was significantly greater in Wistar rats than in AA rats and it was not linked to motivation to consume sucrose.


Our results indicate that conditioning to the lever pressing in uncertain environments is more pronounced in AA than in Wistar rats and indicate that the reinforcing effects of a gambling-like environment act as a stronger conditioning factor for rats that exhibit a genetic tendency for high alcohol drinking.


Gambling Alcohol use disorder Decision making D-Amphetamine Rats 



This study was supported by the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies and Orion Research Foundation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of HealthNational Institute for Health and WelfareHelsinkiFinland

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