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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Neuroscience & Behavior

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Alcohol, Adolescence, Corticotropin-Releasing Factor, Anxiety, Stress, Addiction


Alcohol is one of the most common drugs of choice among adolescents. Normally, the method of consumption is drinking large quantities of alcohol in short periods of time, otherwise known as “binge drinking.” Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) stress peptide producing cells in central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) has been implicated in behavioral responses to stress and addiction. The goals of this thesis were to determine the effects of voluntary binge drinking in adolescence and vapor-induced alcohol dependence in adulthood on CRF cells in the CeA. These studies were done using an operant model of voluntary binge drinking in rodents in which adolescent animals are allowed to orally self-administer sweetened alcohol intermittently (or sweetened water for controls) during early adolescence. The current findings demonstrate that binge drinking during adolescence decreases the number of CRF-ir cells in the CeA. This decrease in cell number is long-term, lasting well into adulthood and dependence does not exacerbate this effect. A second goal was to determine whether certain behaviors could be used as a predictive measure for adolescent binge drinking. The current findings indicated that frequency of self-grooming, can be used as a predictive measure for adolescent binge drinking. Specifically, increased frequency of self-grooming predicts lower alcohol self administration during adolescence.


First Advisor

Heather N Richardson