Ethanol induces maladaptive impulse control and decreased seeking behaviors in mice

Phillip Starski, Sa Ik Hong, Lee Peyton, Alfredo Oliveros, Katheryn Wininger, Colleen Hutchison, Seungwoo Kang, Victor Karpyak, Doo Sup Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Waiting impulsivity is a risk factor for many psychiatric disorders including alcohol use disorder (AUD). Highly impulsive individuals are vulnerable to alcohol abuse. However, it is not well understood whether chronic alcohol use increases the propensity for impulsive behavior. Here, we establish a novel experimental paradigm demonstrating that continuous binge-like ethanol exposure progressively leads to maladaptive impulsive behavior. To test waiting impulsivity, we employed the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) in C57BL/6J male mice. We assessed premature responses in the fixed and variable intertrial interval (ITI) 5-CSRTT sessions. We further characterized our ethanol-induced impulsive mice using Open Field, y-maze, two-bottle choice, and an action-outcome task. Our results indicate that continuous binge-like ethanol exposure significantly increased premature responses when mice were tested in variable ITI sessions even during a prolonged abstinent period. Ethanol-induced impulsive mice exhibited anxiety-like behavior during chronic exposures. This behavior was also observed in a separate cohort that was subjected to 20 days of abstinence. Ethanol-treated mice were less motivated for a sucrose reward compared with air-exposed control mice, while also demonstrating reduced responding during action-outcome testing. Overall, ethanol-treated mice demonstrated increased impulsive behavior, but a reduced motivation for a sucrose reward. Although waiting impulsivity has been hypothesized to be a trait or risk factor for AUD, our findings indicate that maladaptive impulse control can also be potentiated or induced by continuous chronic ethanol exposure in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12754
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • AUD
  • alcohol
  • impulsivity
  • motivation
  • operant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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