I am extremely ecstatic about a recent PNAS publication investigating the effects of adolescent alcohol exposure on risk-taking behavior. Rats, yes rats, were co-administered alcohol and gelatin (i.e. Jello shots) during adolescence and then engaged in a lever-pressing protocol designed to administer sugar pellets, another hedonistic, pleasurable treat, during adulthood. To measure risk-taking behavior, lever-pressing did not necessarily coincide with two pellets. Lever pressing would either administer two, four, or no pellets. Rats that had taken Jello shots as a “teenager” were more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior and would routinely press the lever, knowing that no pellets may be present. For more information, see the article.
In the meantime, I may have to develop another experiment assessing the effects of long-term alcohol exposure on circadian timing of awakening and the consolidation of locomotor activity. Perhaps the hedonistic properties of both alcohol and sugar will augment alcohol consumption and exacerbate alcohol-induced disruptions of the circadian timing system. There is only one way to find out. Plus, I may develop a reputation for being the coolest cat/graduate student in the department.