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    Although casual drinkers are a majority of the alcohol drinking population, understanding of the long-term effects of chronic exposure to lower levels of alcohol is limited. Chronic exposure to lower doses of ethanol may facilitate the development of alcohol use disorders, potentially because of ethanol effects on reward learning and motivation. Indeed, our previously published findings showed that chronic low-dose ethanol exposure enhanced motivation for sucrose in male, but not female, mice. As the ventral hippocampus (vHPC) is sensitive to disruption by higher doses of chronic ethanol and tracks reward-related information, we hypothesized that this region is impacted by low-dose ethanol and, further, that manipulating vHPC activity would alter reward motivation. In vivo electrophysiological recordings of vHPC population neural activity during progressive ratio testing revealed that vHPC activity was suppressed in the period immediately after reward seeking (lever press) in ethanol-naive controls, whereas suppression of vHPC activity anticipated reward seeking in ethanol-exposed mice. In both ethanol-naive and exposed mice, vHPC activity was suppressed before a reward magazine entry. Temporally selective inhibition of vHPC using optogenetics increased motivation for sucrose in ethanol-naive controls, but not in ethanol-exposed mice. Further, regardless of exposure history, vHPC inhibition promoted checking of the reward magazine, indicating a role for vHPC in reward tracking. There was no effect of chemogenetic inhibition of the vHPC either during training or testing on sucrose reward motivation. These results reveal novel ethanol-induced alterations in vHPC neural activity that shift how vHPC activity is able to regulate reward seeking. Copyright © 2023 Bryant et al.


    Kathleen G Bryant, Mitchell A Nothem, Lauren A Buck, Binay Singh, Sana Amin, Christina M Curran-Alfaro, Jacqueline M Barker. A History of Low-Dose Ethanol Shifts the Role of Ventral Hippocampus during Reward Seeking in Male Mice. eNeuro. 2023 May;10(5)

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    PMID: 37156611

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