One Drink Follows Another, Regardless

Once in the bar, one drink follows another, regardless. Our behavior can be due to our planning and decisions to do something, that is, it is goal directed. Generally we regard this as how we would like to behave, thoughtfully and deliberately. This is not always the case. Sometimes we just go into autopilot mode. If this is in a bar, then one drink often follows another and our head tells us in the morning that it wasn’t such a good idea.

We are not unique in the animal kingdom in this regard. There is a new study on a rat-only bar which demonstrates that drunkard guys and drunkard rats have much in common and keep looking for the next drink.

Mangieri et al from U of Texas are the latest to tempt rats with the demon drink (1). In this case, they trained some Long-Evans rats (those nice black and white jobs that give some variety in the lab) to press a lever to get a sweet reward. From this point the plan got devious. For some of the rats, the sweet reward was substituted by a similarly sweet cocktail with a 10% alcohol content. This is almost as high as a regular Screwdriver.

Well it wasn’t long before the rats kept looking for their cocktails even when the lever no longer worked. They were now on automatic and no longer thinking clearly about their goals and objectives.

Now some rats were dosed with lithium chloride. Lithium chloride is used as an anti-depressant and was included in the soda 7-Up until 1948 as a ‘mood stabilizer’, (it became prescription only after that). The idea was that the lithium would help them kick the habit of pressing the lever, but it didn’t work.

Clearly the group of rodentia weren’t being goal oriented and drinking to forget, but were automatically forgetting not to drink. As an endnote: nobody tried to discuss their mood with them.

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