EXPLORING THE EFFECTS OF BINGE ALCOHOL DRINKING IN THE RAT

Open Access
Author:
Cramer, Samuel Reed
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Nanyin Zhang, Thesis Supervisor
  • William O Hancock, Honors Advisor
  • Ping Li, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • ethanol
  • alcohol
  • resting state fmri
  • fmri
  • functional connectivity
  • binge
  • retrosplenial cortex
  • amygdala
  • hippocampus
  • zona incerta
Abstract:
The prevalence of alcohol consumption on college campuses in the United States is a serious problem. With a culture that continues to shift towards a disposition of short-term gratitude, it is not surprising that instances of excessive or binge drinking are reported as reasons for academic failure. In the absence of moderation, alcohol consumption is known to cause multifarious issues throughout organ systems and, in particular, the brain. The purpose of this project is to understand these effects of alcohol on the rat brain. Using binge-drinking models of alcohol consumption and resting state fMRI (rsfMRI), functional connectivity within the brain was investigated. Specifically, rats were exposed to an intermittent access to two-bottle choice (IA2BC) paradigm, which made self-administration of 20% ethanol at high dosages achievable. Rats were separated into three groups based on their drinking behavior: low drinking, moderate drinking, and high drinking. At the conclusion of the 3rd week of IA2BC, control and experimental rats were scanned using rsfMRI protocols. Statistical comparisons between control rats and high drinking experimental rats revealed significant differences in the functional connectivity between hippocampal subregions and the retrosplenial cortex: control rats exhibited a much stronger functional connectivity. Further, comparisons between baseline imaging of high drinking rats and the 3rd week imaging data of the same high drinking rats revealed significant differences in the functional connectivity between the zona incerta and the amygdala: baseline data exhibited a much stronger functional connectivity.