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Alterations in Spatial Learning and Memory Following the Co-Abuse of Alcohol and Nicotine: An Adult Model

Lingg, Ryan (2015) Alterations in Spatial Learning and Memory Following the Co-Abuse of Alcohol and Nicotine: An Adult Model. Masters thesis, Radford University.

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Alcohol and nicotine are two of the most commonly used psychoactive substances, and are typically consumed in levels of excess causing a variety of neurobiological and behavioral alterations that range from slight abnormalities to profound neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment. However, research on the concomitant use of alcohol and nicotine has been relatively lacking. As self-identified practitioners of the binge type pattern of alcohol use are generally more likely to also engage in a regular smoking habit, it is imperative to evaluate the interaction of these substances. For this reason, researchers in the present study were interested in whether combined exposure to a binge model of ethanol consumption, and a chronic model of nicotine administration would differentially affect spatial learning and memory, as compared to the independent use of either substance. To that end, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered a nicotine solution (0.3 mg/kg; s.c.) or saline, three times a day at 8 hr intervals for 10 days. During the final four days of nicotine exposure, ethanol (25% w/v in Vanilla Ensure Plus ®) or a dextrose containing complete nutritional diet was administered via intragastric intubation. Following either a 5 day or 19 day abstinence period, animals were assessed on a variety of spatial learning and memory tasks (reference memory, cognitive flexibility, and working memory) in the Morris water maze (Morris, 1984). It was found that prior exposure to nicotine dramatically impaired learning during the reference memory assessment, and the task of cognitive flexibility. Ethanol, independently, induced differential search strategies commonly associated with hippocampal damage but this did not contribute to increased difficulty completing learning assessments. However, when administered simultaneously, ethanol appeared to ameliorate the nicotine-induced learning impairment potentially acting as a neuroprotective agent. Further, prior nicotine administration prompted the development of anxiety related behaviors, which were also attenuated by simultaneous ethanol exposure. These results provide additional concern for potential adverse health outcomes as a result of nicotine use, and posit a role for ethanol administration as a possible inhibitor of nicotine-induced damage.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Morris water maze, ethanol, binge, nicotine, chronic, spatial learning and memory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Depositing User: Ryan Lingg
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2016 16:34
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2016 16:34

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