Author(s): Wardle MC, Treadway MT, de Wit H
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Preclinical studies suggest that cost/benefit decision-making involves interactions between adenosine and dopamine (DA). In rats, DA depletion decreases willingness to incur effort costs, while adenosine antagonism reverses these effects, likely by increasing DA transmission. Caffeine is a non-selective adenosine antagonist commonly used to facilitate effortful tasks, and thus may affect decisions involving effort costs in humans. The current study examined acute effects of 200 mg of caffeine on willingness to exert effort for monetary rewards at varying levels of reward value and reward probability, in young adult light caffeine users. Based on previous findings with amphetamine, we predicted that caffeine would increase willingness to exert effort. At separate sessions, 23 healthy normal adults received placebo or 200 mg caffeine under counterbalanced double-blind conditions, then completed the effort expenditure for rewards task (EEfRT). Measures of subjective and cardiovascular effects were obtained at regular intervals. Caffeine produced small but significant subjective and cardiovascular effects, and sped psychomotor performance on the EEfRT. Caffeine did not alter willingness to exert effort, except in high cardiovascular responders to caffeine, in whom it decreased willingness to exert effort. These results were contrary to our predictions, but consistent with rodent studies suggesting that moderate doses of caffeine alone do not affect effort, but rather only influence effort in the context of DA antagonism. Our results demonstrate that psychomotor speeding and decisional effects on the EEfRT are dissociable, providing additional evidence for the EEfRT as a specific measure of effort-based decision-making. This study provides a starting point for exploring contributions of the adenosine system to motivation in humans. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Pharmacol Biochem Behav
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy