, Volume 204, Issue 4, pp 679–692

Ethanol effects on impulsivity in two mouse strains: similarities to diazepam and ketamine

  • Yolanda Peña Oliver
  • Tamzin L. Ripley
  • David N. Stephens
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-009-1500-0

Cite this article as:
Oliver, Y.P., Ripley, T.L. & Stephens, D.N. Psychopharmacology (2009) 204: 679. doi:10.1007/s00213-009-1500-0



The effects of ethanol on attention and impulsivity have been contradictory.


The aim of the present investigation is to study the effects of acute ethanol administration in measures of attention and response control in the five-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT) in two strains of mice, C57BL/6JOlaHsd and CD1.

Materials and methods

Mice were trained in the 5-CSRTT and then were injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) with 0, 0.5, 1 and 2 g/kg ethanol before testing under standard parameters and in a long inter-trial interval (ITI) session, which promotes the emergence of premature responses, a measure of poor inhibitory control. To examine if the effects of ethanol in the 5-CSRTT were due to its actions at GABAA receptors or at NMDA receptors, the GABAA receptor agonist diazepam (1 and 2 mg/kg, i.p.) and the non-competitive NMDA antagonist ketamine (10 and 20 mg/kg, i.p.) were tested in long ITI sessions.


Ethanol did not affect attention or impulsivity in the standard procedure, but increased premature responding in long ITI sessions. The effects of ethanol were mimicked by diazepam in both strains of mice, whereas ketamine increased premature responding only in the CD1 strain.


Ethanol's ability to increase impulsivity in the 5-CSRTT is mediated by both common and different neurotransmitter systems in the two strains of mice and is dependent on the task's parameters. Furthermore, ethanol did not decrease response accuracy, suggesting that attentional mechanisms are preserved after acute ethanol in mice and that the increases in impulsive behaviour are independent of attentional performance.



Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yolanda Peña Oliver
    • 1
  • Tamzin L. Ripley
    • 1
  • David N. Stephens
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SussexBrightonUK