Sensitivity to ethanol and other hedonic stimuli in an animal model of adolescence: implications for prevention science?

Author: Spear, L.P.; Varlinskaya, E.I.

Description: Age-related patterns of sensitivity to appetitive and aversive stimuli seemingly have deep evolutionary roots, with marked developmental transformations seen during adolescence in a number of relatively ancient brain systems critical for motivating and directing reward-related behaviors. Using a simple animal model of adolescence in the rat, adolescents have been shown to be more sensitive than their adult counterparts to positive rewarding effects of alcohol, other drugs, and certain natural stimuli, while being less sensitive to the aversive properties of such stimuli. Adolescent-typical alcohol sensitivities may be exacerbated further by a history of prior stress or alcohol exposure as well as by genetic vulnerabilities, permitting relatively high levels of adolescent alcohol use and perhaps an increased probability for the emergence of abuse disorders. A number of potential (albeit tentative) implications of these basic research findings for prevention science are considered.

Subject headings: Adolescent; Adolescent Behavior/drug effects/psychology; Adolescent Development/physiology; Adult; Aging/drug effects/psychology; Animals; Behavior, Addictive/psychology; Ethanol/pharmacology; Humans; Models, Animal; Rats; Reward; Risk Factors; Substance-Related Disorders/prevention & control/psychology

Publication year: 2010

Journal or book title: Developmental Psychobiology

Volume: 52

Issue: 3

Pages: 236-243

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 192