Alcohol use and abuse profoundly influences a variety of behaviors, including social interactions. In some cases, it erodes social relationships; in others, it facilitates sociality. Here, we show that voluntary alcohol consumption can inhibit male partner preference (PP) formation (a laboratory proxy for pair bonding) in socially monogamous prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). Conversely, female PP is not inhibited, and may be facilitated by alcohol. Behavior and neurochemical analysis suggests that the effects of alcohol on social bonding are mediated by neural mechanisms regulating pair bond formation and not alcohol's effects on mating, locomotor, or aggressive behaviors. Several neuropeptide systems involved in the regulation of social behavior (especially neuropeptide Y and corticotropin-releasing factor) are modulated by alcohol drinking during cohabitation. These findings provide the first evidence to our knowledge that alcohol has a direct impact on the neural systems involved in social bonding in a sexspecific manner, providing an opportunity to explore the mechanisms by which alcohol affects social relationships.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
|Published - Apr 22 2014
- Substance use
ASJC Scopus subject areas