Estrogens have been shown to have an inhibitory effect on food intake under free-feeding conditions, yet the effects of estrogens on food-maintained operant responding have been studied to a much lesser extent and, thus, are not well understood. Therefore, the purpose of the present experiment was to use a behavioral economics paradigm to assess differences in demand elasticity between mice with knockout of the estrogen receptor subtype α, knockout of subtype β, and their wild type controls. The mice responded in a closed economy, and the price of food was increased by increasing the fixed-ratio response requirement every four sessions. Overall, we found that mice with the knockout of receptor subtype α had the most elastic demand functions. Therefore, under these conditions, estrogens increased food seeking via activation of the receptor subtype α. The results were inconsistent with those reported by previous studies that employed free-feeding conditions.
KEYWORDS: demand; fixed-ratio schedules; mice; nose poke; sex hormones