Discrimination of methadone and cocaine by pigeons without explicit discrimination training

D. W. Schaal, Mark P Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pigeons were trained to peck a key on a variable-interval 2-min schedule of food reinforcement. Prior to each session, either 2.0 mg/kg methadone (n = 3), 3.0 mg/kg cocaine (n = 4), or 5.6 mg/kg cocaine (n = 2) was administered. When each pigeon's rate of pecking was stable, a range of doses of the training drug and saline were administered prior to 20-min extinction sessions separated by at least four training sessions. Rate of pecking during these extinction tests was generally an increasing function of dose, with the lowest rates obtained following saline and low doses and the highest rates obtained following doses near the training doses. Dose functions from pigeons trained with 5.6 mg/kg cocaine were steeper than those from pigeons trained with 3.0 mg/kg cocaine. Pigeons trained with methadone or 3.0 mg/kg cocaine were then given discrimination training, in which food reinforcement followed drug administration and 20-min extinction sessions followed saline administration. Rates of pecking under these conditions quickly diverged until near-zero rates were obtained following saline and high rates were obtained following drug. Discrimination training steepened dose functions for the training drugs, and the effects of several other substituted drugs depended on the pharmacology of the training drug. The pigeons trained with 5.6 mg/kg cocaine were tested with d-amphetamine, methadone, and morphine prior to discrimination training. d-Amphetamine increased rates dose dependently, and methadone and morphine did not. The results suggest that discriminative control by methadone and cocaine was established without explicit discrimination training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-203
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
StatePublished - 1996


Dive into the research topics of 'Discrimination of methadone and cocaine by pigeons without explicit discrimination training'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this