Alcohol produces biphasic effects of both stimulation and sedation. Sensitivity to these effects may increase the risk for the development of alcoholism. Alcohol-induced changes in stimulation and sedation are commonly assessed with self-report questionnaires in human research and with physical activity monitoring in animal research. However, little is known about the effects of alcohol on physical activity or the relationship between physical activity and subjective self-report measures of stimulation and sedation following alcohol consumption in humans.
Thirty healthy men and women (n = 15 each) from 21 to 38 years old completed daily measurements of physical activity and self-reports of stimulation and sedation following alcohol or placebo consumption. Across each of the four experimental days, all participants consumed a placebo, 0.4, 0.6, or 0.8 g/kg dose of 95% alcohol in a counterbalanced order. Breath alcohol concentrations, physical activity levels, and self-reported stimulation and sedation were measured at baseline and on the ascending and descending limbs of the breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) curve.
All alcohol doses increased physical activity, but these increases were time- and dose-dependent. Increases in physical activity lasted across both ascending and descending limbs of the BrAC curve. Following the 0.6 g/kg dose, both physical activity and self-reported stimulation increased during the ascending BrAC. Separate analyses of self-reported sedation scores indicated that alcohol consumption also increased sedation for the 0.6 and 0.8 g/kg doses. Physical activity was not significantly correlated with either self-reported stimulation or sedation at any time point.
These findings suggest that assessments of subjectively measured stimulation and sedation and objectively measured physical activity each assess unique aspects of the effects of alcohol. Used simultaneously, these measures may be useful for examining underlying mechanisms of the effects of alcohol on behavior.
"Previous studies that examined the effects of acute ethanol treatment on locomotor activity in zebrafish larvae report increased (hyper-) activity due to ethanol as assessed by comparing swim speeds or total distance traveled between control and ethanol treated larvae (Lockwood et al., 2004; MacPhail et al., 2009; Irons et al., 2010; Chen et al., 2011). This result was comparable to the effects on locomotor activity observed in mammals in response to acute ethanol exposure (Frye and Breese, 1981; Masur et al., 1988; Dudek et al., 1991; Phillips et al., 1991, 1992; Shen et al., 1995; Palmer et al., 2002; Addicott et al., 2007). To better understand how ethanol treatment affects locomotor activity in larval zebrafish, we examined all measured properties of locomotor activity (see Materials and Methods). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High-throughput behavioral studies using larval zebrafish often assess locomotor activity to determine the effects of experimental perturbations. However, the results reported by different groups are difficult to compare because there is not a standardized experimental paradigm or measure of locomotor activity. To address this, we investigated the effects that several factors, including the stage of larval development and the physical dimensions (depth and diameter) of the behavioral arena, have on the locomotor activity produced by larval zebrafish. We provide evidence for differences in locomotor activity between larvae at different stages and when recorded in wells of different depths, but not in wells of different diameters. We also show that the variability for most properties of locomotor activity is less for older than younger larvae, which is consistent with previous reports. Finally, we show that conflicting interpretations of activity level can occur when activity is assessed with a single measure of locomotor activity. Thus, we conclude that although a combination of factors should be considered when designing behavioral experiments, the use of older larvae in deep wells will reduce the variability of locomotor activity, and that multiple properties of locomotor activity should be measured to determine activity level.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Elevated sensitivity to the euphoric or stimulant effects of ethanol is associated with higher levels of alcohol use in some human populations. Midbrain dopamine neurons are thought to be important mediators of both ethanol reward and locomotor stimulation. Patch-clamp recordings were used to examine the electrical properties of dopamine neurons in a genetic model of heightened (FAST) and reduced (SLOW) sensitivity to the locomotor-activating effects of ethanol. Pacemaker firing of dopamine neurons was faster in FAST than SLOW mice, as was the current density through I(H) channels. Acute administration of ethanol accelerated the firing of dopamine neurons to a greater extent in recordings from FAST than SLOW mice. Dopamine neurons from FAST mice also exhibited reduced GABA(A) receptor-mediated synaptic input, compared with SLOW mice. The results suggest that dopamine neuron I(H) channels, firing rate, and GABAergic input may play a role in sensitivity to the locomotor activation observed at early time points after ethanol administration and could underlie differences in sensitivity to alcohol relevant to risk for alcohol abuse.
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 02/2009; 329(1):342-9. DOI:10.1124/jpet.108.146316 · 3.97 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neuroanatomical research suggests that interactions between dopamine and glutamate within the mesolimbic dopamine system are involved in both drug-induced locomotor stimulation and addiction. Therefore, genetically determined differences in the locomotor responses to ethanol and cocaine may be related to differences in the effects of these drugs on this system. To test this, we measured drug-induced changes in dopamine and glutamate within the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a major target of mesolimbic dopamine neurons, using in vivo microdialysis in selectively bred FAST and SLOW mouse lines, which were bred for extreme sensitivity (FAST) and insensitivity (SLOW) to the locomotor stimulant effects of ethanol. These mice also show a genetically correlated difference in stimulant response to cocaine (FAST > SLOW). Single injections of ethanol (2 g/kg) or cocaine (40 mg/kg) resulted in larger increases in dopamine within the NAcc in FAST compared with SLOW mice. There was no effect of either drug on NAcc glutamate levels. These experiments indicate that response of the mesolimbic dopamine system is genetically correlated with sensitivity to ethanol- and cocaine-induced locomotion. Because increased sensitivity to the stimulating effects of ethanol appears to be associated with greater risk for alcohol abuse, genetically determined differences in the mesolimbic dopamine response to ethanol may represent a critical underlying mechanism for increased genetic risk for alcoholism.
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