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J Exp Biol. 2017 Apr 15;220(Pt 8):1516-1523. doi: 10.1242/jeb.154419.

Prior social experience affects the behavioral and neural responses to acute alcohol in juvenile crayfish.

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Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA


The effects of alcohol on society can be devastating, both as an immediate consequence of acute intoxication and as a powerful drug of abuse. However, the neurocellular mechanisms of alcohol intoxication are still elusive, partly because of the complex interactions between alcohol and nervous system function. We found that juvenile crayfish are behaviorally sensitive to acute alcohol exposure and progress through stages that are strikingly similar to those of most other intoxicated organisms. Most surprisingly, we found that the social history of the animals significantly modified the acute effects of alcohol. Crayfish taken from a rich social environment became intoxicated more rapidly than animals that were socially isolated before alcohol exposure. In addition, we found that the modulation of intoxicated behaviors by prior social experience was paralleled on the level of individual neurons. These results significantly improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the interplay between social experience, alcohol intoxication and nervous system function.


Intoxication; Invertebrate; Neural circuit; Neurons; Social history

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