Monday, February 04, 2013

Rats, Like Humans, Return to Drinking Once Punishment is Removed

"The better our animal models fit human alcoholism, the more our animal research will help us to understand the complexity of the human disorder and to develop new treatments," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. Currently, the most commonly employed techniques to achieve alcohol abstinence in animal work are forced abstinence and/or extinction training, where a lever press that used to consistently deliver alcohol no longer does so. These models of relapse are limited because they do not incorporate behaviors that mimic a human's desire to avoid negative consequences of drinking. To address this divergence between animal models and the human condition, Nathan Marchant and colleagues developed a rat relapse model in which voluntary alcohol intake is suppressed by punishment in an environment that is different from the original alcohol intake environment. They showed that when rats were re-exposed to the original alcohol self-administration environment, after suppression of alcohol intake in a different environment by punishment, they immediately relapsed to alcohol seeking. more

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