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    Non-Consummatory Behavior Signals Predict Aversion-Resistant Alcohol Drinking in Head-Fixed Mice
    (bioRxiv, 2023-10-05) Timme, Nicholas M.; Ardinger, Cherish E.; Weir, Seth D. C.; Zelaya-Escobar, Rachel; Kruger, Rachel; Lapish, Christopher C.; Psychology, School of Science
    A key facet of alcohol use disorder is continuing to drink alcohol despite negative consequences (so called “aversion-resistant drinking”). In this study, we sought to assess the degree to which head-fixed mice exhibit aversion-resistant drinking and to leverage behavioral analysis techniques available in head-fixture to relate non-consummatory behaviors to aversion-resistant drinking. We assessed aversion-resistant drinking in head-fixed female and male C57BL/6J mice. We adulterated 20% (v/v) alcohol with varying concentrations of the bitter tastant quinine to measure the degree to which mice would continue to drink despite this aversive stimulus. We recorded high-resolution video of the mice during head-fixed drinking, tracked body parts with machine vision tools, and analyzed body movements in relation to consumption. Female and male head-fixed mice exhibited heterogenous levels of aversion-resistant drinking. Additionally, non-consummatory behaviors, such as paw movement and snout movement, were related to the intensity of aversion-resistant drinking. These studies demonstrate that head-fixed mice exhibit aversion-resistant drinking and that non-consummatory behaviors can be used to assess perceived aversiveness in this paradigm. Furthermore, these studies lay the groundwork for future experiments that will utilize advanced electrophysiological techniques to record from large populations of neurons during aversion-resistant drinking to understand the neurocomputational processes that drive this clinically relevant behavior.
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    Impulsivity as a Predictor of Early Dating Initiation in 11–12-Year-Old Youth
    (Springer, 2023) Kwon, Elizabeth; Aalsma, Mathew C.; Zapolski, Tamika C. B.; Monahan, Patrick O.; Hulvershorn, Leslie; Psychology, School of Science
    As early initiation of dating behaviors is associated with risky sexual behaviors (e.g., higher number of sexual partners, sex with strangers), the current study examined determinants of early dating behaviors, focusing on impulsivity. Participants were 11–12-year-old boys (n = 109) and girls (n = 61) recruited from a psychiatric clinic and ads targeted to the general public. Ordered logistic regression models were used to examine the association between each facet of impulsivity (negative urgency, positive urgency, lack of premeditation, lack of perseverance, and sensation seeking) and dating behaviors. Youth with higher sensation seeking and negative urgency was more likely to initiate dating behaviors at early ages compared to those with lower scores on those measures. Further, we found that female gender and higher parental education were associated with lower risk of initiating dating behaviors at early age. Advanced pubertal development was associated with higher risk for early dating. Our findings can inform prevention efforts, identifying sensation seeking and negative urgency as predictors of youths’ early engagement in dating behaviors, which can be a precursor of early sexual debut and risky sexual behaviors.
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    An Experimental Test of the Relationship between Electronic Nicotine Delivery System Use and Alcohol Consumption
    (Wiley, 2021) Hershberger, Alexandra R.; Studebaker, Amanda; Whitt, Zachary T.; Fillmore, Mark; Kahler, Christopher W.; Cyders, Melissa A.; Psychology, School of Science
    Background: Increasing research shows that the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) is associated with a higher rate and quantity of alcohol consumption. Methods: The present study used a 2-session, within-subjects design to experimentally examine the relationship between ENDS use and laboratory ad libitum alcohol consumption. A total of N = 31 (mean age = 28.71, SD = 11.17; 45.2% women; 54.8% White/Caucasian) healthy adults from the community who use ENDS and endorsed liking beer completed the study, which included a beer consumption taste-test task that assessed the volume of beer consumed by the participants across 2 counterbalanced sessions: 1 in which concurrent ENDS use was allowed and 1 in which it was not. All analyses controlled for age, race, and gender. Results: The effect of ENDS condition on the volume of beer consumed was not statistically significant, F(1, 30) = 0.03, p = 0.86). Results of linear mixed modeling showed that ENDS puffs were significantly related to alcohol sips (estimate = 0.23, SE = 0.07, p = 0.002) across the ad libitum session. Conclusions: Overall, ENDS use did not increase alcohol consumption; however, the data suggest that ENDS puffs might act as a prime for beer sips or that these 2 behaviors are linked through habit. Future studies should more fully measure and compare global and event-level data on ENDS and alcohol use as they might show disparate patterns of relationships.
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    Civic Learning: A Sine Qua Non of Service Learning
    (Frontiers Media, 2021) Bringle, Robert G.; Clayton, Patti H.; Psychology, School of Science
    Civic learning is an essential element of service learning, but one that is often underdeveloped in practice. This article surveys various conceptualizations of civic learning that are in use in higher education around the world, discusses approaches to designing service learning courses to generate civic learning outcomes, and proposes two methods for assessing student attainment of them. The intent is to build instructors’ capacities to cultivate the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and behaviors that lie at the very heart of civic learning and of public life in the ever-more complex and interconnected 21st century.
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    Chronic Voluntary Alcohol Drinking Causes Anxiety-like Behavior, Thiamine Deficiency, and Brain Damage of Female Crossed High Alcohol Preferring Mice
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-03-09) Xu, Hong; Li, Hui; Liu, Dexiang; Wen, Wen; Xu, Mei; Frank, Jacqueline A.; Chen, Jing; Zhu, Haining; Grahame, Nicholas J.; Luo, Jia; Psychology, School of Science
    The central nervous system is vulnerable to chronic alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence is a chronically relapsing disorder which causes a variety of physical and mental disorders. Appropriate animal models are important for investigating the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. The crossed High Alcohol Preferring mice prefer alcohol to water when given free access. In the present study, we used female cHAP mice as a model of chronic voluntary drinking to evaluate the effects of alcohol on neurobehavioral and neuropathological changes. The female cHAP mice had free-choice access to 10% ethanol and water, while control mice had access to water alone at the age of 60-day-old. The mice were exposed to alcohol for 7 months then subjected to neurobehavioral tests including open field (OF), elevated plus maze (EPM), and Morris water maze (MWM). Results from OF and EPM tests suggested that chronic voluntary drinking caused anxiety-like behaviors. After behavior tests, mice were sacrificed, and brain tissues were processed for biochemical analyses. Alcohol altered the levels of several neurotransmitters and neurotrophic factors in the brain including gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), corticotropin-releasing factor, cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Alcohol increased the expression of neuroinflammation markers including interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and C-C chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2). Alcohol also induced cleaved caspase-3 and glial fibrillary acidic protein, indicative of neurodegeneration and gliosis. In addition, alcohol inhibited the expression of thiamine transporters in the brain and reduced thiamine levels in the blood. Alcohol also caused oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and stimulated neurogenesis.
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    Disruption of Long-Term Depression Potentiates Latent Inhibition: Key Role for Central Nucleus of the Amygdala
    (Oxford University Press, 2021) Ashby, Donovan M.; Dias, Carine; Aleksandrova, Lily R.; Lapish, Christopher C.; Wang, Yu Tian; Phillips, Anthony G.; Psychology, School of Science
    Background: Latent inhibition (LI) reflects an adaptive form of learning impaired in certain forms of mental illness. Glutamate receptor activity is linked to LI, but the potential role of synaptic plasticity remains unspecified. Methods: Accordingly, the present study examined the possible role of long-term depression (LTD) in LI induced by prior exposure of rats to an auditory stimulus used subsequently as a conditional stimulus to signal a pending footshock. We employed 2 mechanistically distinct LTD inhibitors, the Tat-GluA23Y peptide that blocks endocytosis of the GluA2-containing glutamate α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor, or the selective glutamate n-methyl-d-aspartate receptor 2B antagonist, Ro25-6981, administered prior to the acquisition of 2-way conditioned avoidance with or without tone pre-exposure. Results: Systemic LTD blockade with the Tat-GluA23Y peptide strengthened the LI effect by further impairing acquisition of conditioned avoidance in conditional stimulus-preexposed rats compared with normal conditioning in non-preexposed controls. Systemic Ro25-6981 had no significant effects. Brain region-specific microinjections of the Tat-GluA23Y peptide into the nucleus accumbens, medial prefrontal cortex, or central or basolateral amygdala demonstrated that disruption of glutamate α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor endocytosis in the central amygdala also potentiated the LI effect. Conclusions: These data revealed a previously unknown role for central amygdala LTD in LI as a key mediator of cognitive flexibility required to respond to previously irrelevant stimuli that acquire significance through reinforcement. The findings may have relevance both for our mechanistic understanding of LI and its alteration in disease states such as schizophrenia, while further elucidating the role of LTD in learning and memory.
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    Development and acceptability of an educational video about a smoking cessation quitline for use in adult outpatient mental healthcare
    (Oxford University Press, 2021) Kazan, Adina S.; Perry, Laura M.; Atiya, Wasef F.; Voss, Hallie M.; Kim, Seowoo; Easwar, Sanjana; Mercorella, Hannah N.; Lewson, Ashley; Rogers, James L.; Arnold, Dodie; Raines, Amanda M.; Brown, Lisanne; Moore, Tonia; Hoerger, Michael; Psychology, School of Science
    Tobacco use is a leading preventable cause of early mortality and is prevalent among adults with mental health diagnoses, especially in the southern USA. Increasing cessation resources in outpatient mental health care and targeting individuals most receptive to changing their behavior may improve cessation. Drawing on the transtheoretical model, our goals were to develop an educational video about the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline and evaluate its acceptability. We designed the video with knowledge derived from Louisiana-specific data (2016 Louisiana Adult Tobacco Survey, N = 6,469) and stakeholder feedback. Bivariate associations between demographic/tobacco-use characteristics and participants’ stage of quitting (preparation phase vs. nonpreparation phase) were conducted, which informed design elements of the video. Four stakeholder advisory board meetings involving current smokers, mental health clinicians, and public health advocates convened to provide iterative feedback on the intervention. Our stakeholder advisory board (n = 10) and external stakeholders (n = 20) evaluated intervention acceptability. We found that 17.9% of Louisiana adults were current smokers, with 46.9% of them in the preparation phase of quitting. Using insights from data and stakeholders, we succeeded in producing a 2-min video about the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline which incorporated three themes identified as important by stakeholders: positivity, relatability, and approachability. Supporting acceptability, 96.7% of stakeholders rated the video as helpful and engaging. This study demonstrates the acceptability of combining theory, existing data, and iterative stakeholder feedback to develop a quitline educational video. Future research should examine whether the video can be used to reduce tobacco use.
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    Applying Bayesian Cognitive Models to Decisions to Drive after Drinking
    (Wiley, 2021) McCarthy, Denis M.; McCarty, Kayleigh N.; Hatz, Laura E.; Prestigiacomo, Christiana J.; Park, Sanghyuk; Davis-Stober, Clintin P.; Psychology, School of Science
    Background and aims: Despite widespread negative perceptions, the prevalence of alcohol-impaired driving (AID) in the United States remains unacceptably high. This study used a novel decision task to evaluate whether individuals considered both ride service cost and alcohol consumption level when deciding whether or not to drive, and whether the resulting strategy was associated with engagement in AID. Design: A two-sample study, where sample 1 developed a novel AID decision task to classify participants by decision strategy. Sample 2 was used to cross-validate the task and examine whether decision strategy classifications were predictive of prior reported AID behavior. Setting: A laboratory setting at the University of Missouri, USA. Participants: Sample 1 included 38 student participants from introductory psychology classes at the University of Missouri. Sample 2 included 67 young adult participants recruited from the local community. Measurements: We developed a decision task that presented hypothetical drinking scenarios that varied in quantity of alcohol consumption (one to six drinks) and the cost of a ride service ($5-25). We applied a Bayesian computational model to classify choices as consistent with either: integrating both ride cost and consumption level (compensatory) or considering only consumption level (non-compensatory) when making hypothetical AID decisions. In sample 2, we assessed established AID risk factors (sex, recent alcohol consumption, perceived safe limit) and recent (past 3 months) engagement in AID. Findings: In sample 1, the majority of participants were classified as using decision strategies consistent with either a compensatory or non-compensatory process. Results from sample 2 replicated the overall classification rate and demonstrated that participants who used a compensatory strategy were more likely to report recent AID, even after accounting for study covariates. Conclusions: In a hypothetical alcohol-impaired driving (AID) decision task, individuals who considered both consumption level and ride service cost were more likely to report recent AID than those who made decisions based entirely on consumption level.
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    Letter in Reply [Response To Letter]
    (Dove Press, 2021-11-08) Williams, Michelle K.; Butcher, Monica R.; Merlo, Lisa J.; Psychology, School of Science
    See the letter "A Response to “Assessment of Student Perspectives on Improving Wellness in Medical School: Qualitative Results from a Cross-Sectional Survey of Medical Students in Florida” [Letter]" in volume 12 on page 1229.
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    Gender inequality in academia: Problems and solutions for women faculty in STEM
    (Wiley, 2021) Casad, Bettina J.; Franks, Jillian E.; Garasky, Christina E.; Kittleman, Melinda M.; Roesler, Alanna C.; Hall, Deidre Y.; Petzel, Zachary W.; Psychology, School of Science
    Recently there is widespread interest in women's underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); however, progress toward gender equality in these fields is slow. More alarmingly, these gender disparities worsen when examining women's representation within STEM departments in academia. While the number of women receiving postgraduate degrees has increased in recent years, the number of women in STEM faculty positions remains largely unchanged. One explanation for this lack of progress toward gender parity is negative and pervasive gender stereotypes, which may facilitate hiring discrimination and reduce opportunities for women's career advancement. Women in STEM also have lower social capital (e.g., support networks), limiting women's opportunities to earn tenure and learn about grant funding mechanisms. Women faculty in STEM may also perceive their academic climate as unwelcoming and threatening, and report hostility and uncomfortable tensions in their work environments, such as sexual harassment and discrimination. Merely the presence of gender-biased cues in physical spaces targeted toward men (e.g., "geeky" décor) can foster a sense of not belonging in STEM. We describe the following three factors that likely contribute to gender inequalities and women's departure from academic STEM fields: (a) numeric underrepresentation and stereotypes, (b) lack of supportive social networks, and (c) chilly academic climates. We discuss potential solutions for these problems, focusing on National Science Foundation-funded ADVANCE organizational change interventions that target (a) recruiting diverse applicants (e.g., training search committees), (b) mentoring, networking, and professional development (e.g., promoting women faculty networks); and (c) improving academic climate (e.g., educating male faculty on gender bias).