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Long-Term Risk Preference and Suboptimal Decision Making following Adolescent Alcohol Use

Nicholas A. Nasrallah, Tom W. H. Yang, Ilene L. Bernstein and Bruce S. McEwen
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 106, No. 41 (Oct. 13, 2009), pp. 17600-17604
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40485234
Page Count: 5
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Long-Term Risk Preference and Suboptimal Decision Making following Adolescent Alcohol Use
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Abstract

Individuals who abused alcohol at an early age show decisionmaking impairments. However, the question of whether maladaptive choice constitutes a predisposing factor to, or a consequence resulting from, alcohol exposure remains open. To examine whether a causal link exists between voluntary alcohol consumption during adolescence and adult decision making the present studies used a rodent model. High levels of voluntary alcohol intake were promoted by providing adolescent rats with access to alcohol in a palatable gel matrix under nondeprivation conditions. A probability-discounting instrumental response task offered a choice between large but uncertain rewards and small but certain rewards to assess risk-based choice in adulthood either 3 weeks or 3 months following alcohol exposure. While control animals' performance on this task closely conformed to a predictive model of risk-neutral value matching, rats that consumed high levels of alcohol during adolescence violated this model, demonstrating greater risk preference. Evidence of significant risk bias was still present when choice was assessed 3 months following discontinuation of alcohol access. These findings provide evidence that adolescent alcohol exposure may lead to altered decision making during adulthood and this model offers a promising approach to the investigation of the neurobiological underpinnings of this link.

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