Lever-press duration as a measure of frustration in sucrose and drug reinforcement

Tileena E.S. Vasquez, Ryan J. McAuley, Nikita S. Gupta, Shyny Koshy, Yorkiris Marmol-Contreras, Thomas A. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: Currently there is little research into the role of frustration in substance use disorders despite research showing that frustration tolerance in humans is associated with a lower likelihood of developing substance use problems, better outcomes in recovery, and fewer relapses. Objective: In order to address this need, our studies use a rat model to focus on frustration-related behavior in natural reward and addiction-related behavioral procedures. Frustration is defined as when a subject is unable to achieve a reinforcer, receives less of a reinforcer than anticipated, or has to work harder to achieve a reinforcer. Results: In these studies, bar-press durations increase when rats are in a state of frustration during self-administration of sucrose, fentanyl, or cocaine. Conclusions: These data also show that average bar-press durations do not correlate with the number of bar presses, meaning that press duration is an independent measurement that represents a behavioral construct distinct from craving, which is typically measured with number of bar presses. Essentially, these results support that bar press durations can be used as a real-time measure of frustration as a 4th major facet of addiction-related behavior, adding to craving, impulsivity, and habit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-968
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Aggression related
  • Drug abuse
  • Escalation
  • Opioid
  • Progressive ratio
  • Stimulant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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