Effects of chronic administration of drugs of abuse on impulsive choice (delay discounting) in animal models


Drug-addicted individuals show high levels of impulsive choice, characterized by preference for small immediate over larger but delayed rewards. Although the causal relationship between chronic drug use and elevated impulsive choice in humans has been unclear, a mall but growing body of literature over the past decade has shown that chronic drug administration in animal models can cause increases in impulsive choice, suggesting that a similar causal relationship may exist in human drug users. This article reviews this literature, with a particular focus on the effects of chronic cocaine administration, which have been most thoroughly characterized. The potential mechanisms of these effects are described in terms of drug-induced neural alterations in ventral striatal and prefrontal cortical brain systems. Some implications of this research for pharmacological treatment of drug-induced increases in impulsive choice are discussed, along with suggestions for future research in this area. © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Publication Title

Behavioural Pharmacology