Social Influences In an Adolescent Animal Model of Polysubstance Drug Abuse

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Antoniette Maldonado-Devincci



Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2019


Social and non-social interactions are subject to influence when drugs and alcohol are used during adolescence. During adolescence, there is a significant increase in social interaction and risk taking in humans and in animals. Recently, there has been a rise in polysubstance use with many times substance use disorders beginning to develop during adolescence. The present study used the demonstrator-observer paradigm to assess the interaction of social influences and cocaine exposure on adolescent animal behavior to serve a model of human adolescent social behaviors. The present experiment was designed to determine if social interaction with a cocaine injected same-sex peer altered social and non social behaviors and subsequent voluntary alcohol intake. Each adolescent rat was socially isolated for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes of social isolation, the demonstrator (non-experimental animal) was administered cocaine (5.0 mg/kg or 20.0 mg/kg) or saline (0.0 mg/kg). The demonstrator and observer (experimental animal being tested) were reunited and were allowed to socially interact for 30 minutes. Their behaviors were video recorded and analyzed offline. Social behaviors quantified included social play, social investigation, and social contact. The non social behaviors quantified included rearing, as a measure of general exploratory behavior, and self-grooming, as a measure of non-socially directed behavior. The data suggest that social investigation increased and social play decreased in a dose-dependent manner in both males and females, with no differences in social contact. For non-social behaviors, in the control groups, males showed higher rearing tendencies compared to females, and social interaction with a cocaine-injected peer increased social grooming, regardless of sex or dose. There was no difference in ethanol consumption or preference following social interaction with a cocaine-injected peer in males or females. Together, these data suggest that social interaction with a cocaine-injected peer alters social and non-social behaviors, but not ethanol consumption in an adolescent animal model of passive social influences.

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