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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Nov;224(1):121-32. doi: 10.1007/s00213-012-2836-4. Epub 2012 Aug 18.

Social housing and alcohol drinking in male-female pairs of prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster).

Author information

  • 1Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA. caroline.hostetler@gmail.com

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Social environment influences alcohol consumption in humans; however, animal models have only begun to address biological underpinnings of these effects.

OBJECTIVES:

We investigated whether social influences on alcohol drinking in the prairie vole are specific to the sex of the social partner.

METHODS:

In Experiment 1, control, sham, and gonadectomized voles were placed either in mesh-divided housing with a same-sex sibling or isolation with access to ethanol. In Experiment 2, animals were given an elevated plus maze test (EPM) and then females were paired with a castrated male followed by isolation or mesh-divided housing with access to ethanol. In Experiment 3, subjects categorized as low or high drinkers based on initial ethanol intake were placed in mesh-divided housing with an opposite-sex partner of the same or opposite drinking group and ethanol access. Subjects were then moved back to isolation for a final ethanol access period.

RESULTS:

Same-sex pairs showed social facilitation of drinking similar to previous reports. Gonadectomy did not affect alcohol drinking. Opposite-sex paired animals in Experiment 2 did not differ in alcohol drinking based on social housing. EPM measures suggested a relationship between anxiety-like behaviors and drinking that depended on social environment. Experiment 3 identified moderate changes in alcohol preference based on social housing, but these effects were influenced by the animal's own drinking behavior and were independent of their partner's drinking.

CONCLUSIONS:

Social influences on alcohol self-administration in prairie voles differ based on the sex of a social partner, consistent with human drinking behavior.

PMID:
22903359
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3827960
Free PMC Article
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