Effect of Addiction Modeling Reinforcement Schedules on Delay Discounting


Elevated delay discounting, in which delayed rewards quickly lose value as a function of time, is associated with substance use and abuse. Currently, the direction of causation is unclear: while some research indicates that elevated delay discounting leads to future substance use, it is also possible that chronic substance use and specifically the rate of reinforcement associated with drug use, leads to elevated delay discounting. This project aims to examine the latter possibility. 47 participants completed ten 30-minute daily sessions of a visual attention task, and were reinforced at a rate intended to model drug use (fixed ratio 1) or drug abstinence (fixed ratio 10). Baseline and post-training rates of delay discounting were assessed for hypothetical $50 and $1000. Area under the curve of the indifference points as a function of delay was calculated. A greater area under the curve suggests more self-control, whereas a lower value represents more impulsiveness. Results at the monetary value of both $50 and $1000 showed increased impulsivity in relation to the control for both the FR1 and FR10 groups indicating that the two schedules may both model drug use.