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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Oct;38(10):2579-89. doi: 10.1111/acer.12535.

Repeated ethanol exposure during early and late adolescence: double dissociation of effects on waiting and choice impulsivity.

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School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, United Kingdom.



A strong association exists between impulsivity and binge drinking, and between adolescent alcohol exposure and alcohol abuse in humans. To understand the extent to which early-life alcohol exposure contributes to increased impulsivity, we developed an animal model of binge drinking using 2 strains of mice, C57BL/6J (B6) and DBA2/J (D2), that differ in both motor impulsivity and alcohol drinking.


Mice were treated with 2 g/kg ethanol (EtOH) during their early (intermittent ethanol exposure [IEE]_Early; postnatal day [PND]30 to 45) or late (IEE_Late; PND45 to 60) adolescence or with saline (control group [CON]) throughout the adolescence period. To determine the consequences IEE on waiting impulsivity and attentional function, the number of premature responses and omissions, respectively, were evaluated in adulthood using the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT). To examine the effects of IEE on choice impulsivity, risky decision making was assessed in adulthood using a mouse version of the Iowa Gambling Task (mIGT). Additionally, the acute effects of EtOH in adulthood on waiting impulsivity and choice preference were investigated.


We provide experimental evidence that IEE during late, but not early, adolescence disrupts waiting impulsivity and attentional abilities in the 5-CSRTT. In contrast, IEE during early, but not late, adolescence altered risky decision making in the mIGT. D2 mice consistently showed lower premature responding than B6 mice in both the mIGT and the 5-CSRTT, but greater risky decision making on the mIGT. IEE and CON mice showed similar responsiveness to the acute EtOH effects on premature responding, but increased risky choices only in B6_IEE_Early mice.


Our observations suggest a direct effect of IEE during adolescence on waiting and choice impulsivity and attention later in life.


Adolescence; Ethanol; Impulsivity; Inbred Mice

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