The effects of acute, chronic and withdrawal from chronic ethanol on emotional learning

Danielle Gulick, Thomas J. Gould

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused recreational drug, and one effect of ethanol administration, regardless of whether it is acute or chronic, is the disruption of learning and memory. Although recent studies have demonstrated that ethanol does not produce global deficits but, rather, acts on specific substrates to alter neural function, our understanding of the effects of ethanol on cognitive processes remains incomplete. The studies discussed herein offer support for the specificity of the effects of ethanol on learning-related processes and examine how these effects vary with both the task and the phase of ethanol administration examined. Acute ethanol impairs emotional learning as measured by standard contextual and cued fear conditioning, as well as trace fear conditioning and passive avoidance. However, the effects of acute ethanol on these tasks are influenced by multiple factors, such as genetics and age. Furthermore, as ethanol administration transitions into chronic and withdrawal from chronic ethanol, the pattern of impairments in emotional learning changes. This suggests that acute, chronic, and withdrawal from chronic ethanol differentially alter behavior and therefore may also differentially alter neuronal function. Thus, the current review compares and contrasts the effects of acute, chronic, and withdrawal from chronic ethanol within fear conditioning and passive avoidance tasks, and across these two models of aversive/emotional learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTrends in Cognitive Sciences
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Pages1-27
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9781613244616
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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