Alcohol as a cue for extinction: State dependency produced by conditioned inhibition

Christopher L. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


A conditioned-emotional-response (CER) paradigm was used in two experiments to evaluate the effects of alcohol on extinction. In both experiments, rats received tone-shock pairings without alcohol and then received extinction trials either with or without alcohol (injections of saline, .75 or 1.5 g/kg ethanol). The high dose of alcohol suppressed baseline barpressing for food reward, but there was only weak evidence (Experiment 2) that it enhanced responding during the tone early in extinction. In both experiments, extinction of CER under the high alcohol dose was found to be state dependent, that is, post-extinction tests after saline injection showed a reinstatement of suppression to the tone. Experiment 2 indicated that this effect could be attributed to alcohol's becoming a conditioned inhibitory stimulus as a result of its association with extinction. This supports the general suggestion that situational stimuli normally become inhibitory during the course of simple extinction and may have implications for the role that state-dependent learning plays in drug dependence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Learning & Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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