Acoustic startle in alcohol-naïve male rats predicts subsequent voluntary alcohol intake and alcohol preference

Rasmussen, D.D.; Kincaid, C.L.

Alcohol and Alcoholism 50(1): 56-61

2015


ISSN/ISBN: 0735-0414
PMID: 25305255
DOI: 10.1093/alcalc/agu065
Accession: 051335644

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Abstract
Acoustic startle response in rats is used to model sensorimotor reactivity. The aim of the study was to determine whether acoustic startle response in alcohol-naïve rats predicts subsequent increased voluntary alcohol drinking or alcohol preference. Startle responses to 90, 95 and 100 decibel (dB) white noise stimuli presented in counterbalanced semi-randomized order were tested in alcohol-naïve young adult male Wistar rats before voluntary alcohol intake was established with an intermittent alcohol access (IAA) model. Startle amplitude in response to 95 or 100 dB stimuli was positively correlated with subsequent alcohol intake and alcohol preference following 3 months of IAA. Rats with high (median split) pre-IAA startle amplitude in response to 95 or 100 dB stimuli developed increased alcohol intake as well as increased alcohol preference following 3 months of IAA, relative to rats with low pre-IAA startle amplitude. Startle response to moderate acoustic stimuli can be a predictive index of vulnerability to developing increased alcohol drinking.