Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #239
CE Offered: BACB

Adolescents and Alcohol: Acute Sensitivities, Enhanced Intake, and Later Consequences

Sunday, May 25, 2014
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
W375e (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: BPH; Domain: Basic Research
CE Instructor: Jonathan W. Pinkston, Ph.D.
Chair: Jonathan W. Pinkston (University of North Texas)
LINDA P. SPEAR (Binghamton University, State University of New York)
Dr. Linda Spear is a SUNY distinguished professor in behavioral neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Binghamton University, State University of New York. She has served as president of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology, and the Neurobehavioral Teratology Society. Dr. Spear has been a member of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institue on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) review committees, the extramural advisory boards of NIDA and NIAAA, as well as the NIAAA National Advisory Council. With more than 250 research publications, including a book, The Behavioral Neuroscience of Adolescence, she conducts research largely using animal models to characterize neurobehavioral features of adolescence, with a particular focus on sensitivity to and long-term consequences of alcohol use during adolescence. Dr. Spear currently directs the Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Center (DEARC) and is a member of the consortium on the Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood (NADIA)--both NIAAA-funded initiatives. She was the 2005 recipient of the Keller Award, an award given annually by NIAAA to "an outstanding alcohol researcher who has made significant and long-term contributions" to the study of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, and in 2012 received the Henri Begleiter Excellence in Research Award from the Research Society on Alcoholism as well as the Elsevier Distinguished Lecture Award given by the Neurobehavioral Teratology Society.

Adolescence is a conserved developmental period characterized by ontogenetic alterations in brain and behavior that often bear notable similarities across species, including increases in peer-directed social behaviors, risk-taking, as well as elevated per occasion use of alcohol. Studies using a rodent model of adolescence have shown that, seemingly due in part to age differences in brain function and in expression of acute tolerance, adolescents are more resistant than are adults to alcohol effects that normally serve as cues to moderate drinking, while conversely showing greater sensitivity to ethanol-induced social stimulation. To the extent that these findings in laboratory animals are relevant to human adolescents, this developmental blending of enhanced/attenuated ethanol sensitivities may encourage relatively high levels of consumption, particularly among adolescents who are otherwise at risk for especially elevated alcohol intake because of genetic or environmentally associated alterations in ethanol sensitivities Such elevated ethanol exposures may lead to adverse consequences among at-risk adolescents that may persist into adulthood. Indeed, our findings to date have revealed certain long-lasting consequences of repeated exposure to ethanol during adolescence that are replicable, specific, and dependent on timing of the ethanol exposure, with early adolescence being perhaps an especially vulnerable period, and comparable exposures in adulthood generally not inducing similar effects.

Keyword(s): adolesence, drug abuse, risk taking, social behavior



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