Oral ethanol self-administration in rhesus monkeys: Behavioral and neurochemical correlates

J. A. Vivian, J. D. Higley, M. Linnoila, J. H. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Previous research has revealed that orally administered ethanol serves as a reinforcer in nonhuman primates. The purposes of the present study were to examine the relationship between ethanol preferences and intakes in two distinct self-administration contexts and to reveal some of the behavioral and neurochemical correlates of oral ethanol self- administration in monkeys. Methods: Three cohorts of 13 to 29 rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were socially housed and given daily, 1-hr, one- spout access to an ethanol solution (8.4%, w/v) sweetened with aspartame. Twelve of these monkeys were subsequently selected, individually housed, and given daily, 2-hr, two-spout access to a range of ethanol concentrations (0.25-16%, w/v) concurrently with water. Results: These monkeys (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism group) showed a marked preference for ethanol (0.5-4%, w/v) over water, and ethanol preferences were 3-fold greater than those of a second group of 12 monkeys (University of Michigan group) purchased from a commercial vendor. Ethanol consumption was consistent across the self-administration paradigms. Monkeys that consumed large quantities of ethanol under the one-spout, social-housing conditions continued to drink large quantities of ethanol under the two-spout, individual-housing conditions (r = 0.86). An association between ethanol preferences and intakes was also demonstrated. Monkeys with the greatest preferences for ethanol over water under the two- spout choice conditions consumed the largest quantities of ethanol (r = 0.82). Finally, cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid concentrations were inversely related to ethanol preference but not to ethanol intake. Conclusions: These results indicate that ethanol consumption is stable across contexts and is positively correlated with the preference for ethanol over water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1352-1361
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethanol
  • Preferences
  • Self-administration
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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