Effects of Ethanol on Instrumental Learning And Plasticity Within The Spinal Cord
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Due to its high prevalence as a recreational substance in our society, especially in populations with spinal cord injury (Tate, 1993), it is imperative that we study the relationship between ethanol and its possible effects on instrumental learning within the spinal cord. Previous studies have demonstrated that the spinal cord is capable of making plastic changes in response to stimuli without the influence of the brain. Many substances have been shown to facilitate or inhibit this ability. I hypothesize that ethanol (EtOH) will have an inhibitory effect on both adaptive and maladaptive plasticity within the spinal cord. Rats were be used to test for this effect. The rats had their spinal cords transected at the second thoracic (T2) vertebrae to eliminate spinal cord communication with the brain. The next day, the rats were administered ethanol at concentrations designed to achieve a blood ethanol content (BEC) known to impair behavioral and neural function. The rats were behaviorally tested for learning and changes in spinal plasticity. In addition, I examined whether ethanol affects the development of a maladaptive form of plasticity, the central sensitization produced by peripheral inflammation. The behavioral data acquired supports my hypothesis that ethanol intake has an inhibitory effect on adaptive plasticity in the spinal cord.
Callegari, Keri (2013). Effects of Ethanol on Instrumental Learning And Plasticity Within The Spinal Cord. Honors and Undergraduate Research. Available electronically from