Effect of low dose ethanol on spontaneous motor activity in alcohol-preferring and -nonpreferring lines of rats

M. B. Waller, J. M. Murphy, W. J. McBride, L. Lumeng, T. K. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

181 Scopus citations


To determine if behavioral arousal may be associated with ethanol preference, the effects of low to moderate doses of ethanol on spontaneous motor activity (SMA) were studied in the selectively bred alcohol-preferring (P) and -nonpreferring (NP) lines of rats as well as in the Maudsley Reactive (MR/N) and Nonreactive (MNR/N) strains. Alcohol-naive rats had food and water available ad lib, but food was removed 24 hr before and during activity testing. After an intraperitoneal injection of saline (5 ml) or ethanol (0.12 to 1.5 g/kg), SMA was monitored every three min for 30 min in an electronic activity monitor. The P and MR/N rats exhibited increased SMA after doses of 0.12 and 0.25 g/kg. Both the NP and MNR/N rats failed to show increased SMA at any ethanol dose. Moderate doses of ethanol, 1.0 and 1.5 g/kg, consistently depressed SMA in all lines/strains. In 24 hr-fasted rats, increased SMA occurred within 6-12 min after injection, but free-fed rats exhibited increased SMA 12-24 min after an ethanol dose of 0.25 g/kg. Free-choice drinking scores (10% ethanol (v/v) versus water) for the P, MR/N, MNR/N and NP rats were 6.6±0.5, 4.9±0.8, 2.2±0.7 and 1.4±0.3 g ethanol/kg body wt/day (mean±SEM), respectively. The data indicate a positive relationship between ethanol preference and ethanol-induced motor stimulation and suggest that hyperactivity may be an expression of the positive reinforcing effect of ethanol for alcohol-preferring rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-623
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1986


  • Alcohol-preferring and -nonpreferring rats
  • Ethanol
  • Low-dose effects of ethanol
  • Spontaneous motor activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology

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