Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Joshua Beckmann


Cocaine Use Disorder (CUD) is characterized partly by the use of cocaine at the expense of other alternatives, in other words, it is a decision-making pathology (Kalivas & Volkow, 2005). Concurrent choice tasks assess decision-making in a dynamic scenario that more closely resembles real life. Value-based decision-making is an important facet of understanding the addictive properties of drugs of abuse. In order to compare two value-based theories of addiction (habit theory and relative value theory), a concurrent choice task was run in tandem with an escalation procedure. First, animals were trained on a choice task until stable, then trained on to self-administer cocaine (0.3mg/kg to the animal’s weight) using a fixed ratio 1 schedule under 1-hr access. For the escalation procedure, some animals remained on 1-hr access and others were given 6-hr access to cocaine for 21 days. Then all rats returned to 1-hr access. The animals were trained such that they performed the choice task in the morning (while not under the influence of drugs) and then after a rest in the home cage, were put back into the operant boxes for self-administration sessions.

Escalation of cocaine intake was evident in the 6-hr exposed animals but intake was stable in the 1-hr exposed animals. The choice behavior between the two groups did not differ, despite differences in intake between the groups. Indicating that despite dysregulated cocaine intake, value-based decision-making and goal-directed behavior remained intact. This supports the idea of looking beyond habit theory as the sole explanation for the change in decision-making behavior seen in CUD.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Health (no. 1 R01 DA045023-01A1) from which the author received funds from 2018-2020.