Honors Theses


Tracy Butler, Ph.D.



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Honors Thesis


Among women with Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs), women have higher rates of anxiety-disorders and are more influenced by early life stress compared to men. Preclinical models have been used to study the relationships between early life stress, anxiety-like behavior, and alcohol intake and preference. However, fewer studies have been done with female rats than male rats. To that end, chronic social instability was utilized as a model of early life stress in females. In this model Long Evans rats are placed in different pairs every day, and this has previously produced anxiety-like behavior in female rats (McCormick et al., 2008). This study extended the McCormick et al. model by including an extra experimental group and including an alcohol self-administration paradigm. Experimental groups were: (1) chronic social instability (pairhoused for 17 days with a novel cage mate introduced every 24h); (2) Social stability; pair-housed with same cage mate daily); (3) Isolated; single housed for entire study); (4) Acute social instability; pair-housed with same cage mate for 16 days but novel cage mate for 24h on last day). A well-validated model for assessment of anxiety-like behavior, the elevated plus maze, was utilized to evaluate anxiety-like behavior after the housing manipulation, and plasma corticosterone (CORT) levels were measured. Following these measures, rats were given a two bottle choice and intermittent access between alcohol and water, and alcohol consumption and preference was measured. Following these measures, no significant differences were found between experimental groups for anxiety-like behavior, CORT levels, or alcohol intake/preference. Thus, further study is needed to find a preclinical model of early life stress that promotes anxiety-like behavior and alcohol consumption.

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Undergraduate research


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Psychology Commons