, Volume 192, Issue 1, pp 39-48
Date: 23 Jan 2007

Dissociation of the effects of ethanol on memory, anxiety, and motor behavior in mice tested in the plus-maze discriminative avoidance task

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Several studies have shown the amnestic effects of ethanol (ETOH). However, while memory tasks in rodents can be markedly influenced by anxiety-like behavior and motor function, ETOH induces anxiolysis and different effects on locomotion, depending on the dose.


Verify the effects of ETOH in mice tested in the plus-maze discriminative avoidance task (PMDAT) concomitantly evaluating memory, anxiety-like behavior, and motor behavior.


ETOH acutely or repeatedly treated mice were submitted to the training session in a modified elevated plus-maze with two open and two enclosed arms, aversive stimuli in one of the enclosed arms, and tested 24 h later without aversive stimuli. Learning/memory, locomotion, and anxiety-related behavior were evaluated by aversive arm exploration, number of entries in all the arms and open arms exploration, respectively.


Acute ETOH: (1) either increased (1.2–1.8 g/kg) or decreased (3.0 g/kg) locomotion; (2) decreased anxiety levels (1.2–3.0 g/kg); and (3) induced learning deficits (1.2–3.0 g/kg) and memory deficits (0.3–3.0 g/kg). After repeated treatment, sensitization and tolerance to hyperlocomotion and anxiolysis induced by 1.8 g/kg ETOH were observed, respectively, and tolerance to the amnestic effect of 0.6 (but not 1.8) g/kg ETOH occurred.


Neither the anxiolytic nor the locomotor effects of ETOH seem to be related to its amnestic effect in the PMDAT. Additionally, data give support to the effectiveness of the PMDAT in simultaneously evaluating learning, memory, anxiety-like behavior, and motor activity by different parameters. Possible relationships between the behavioral alterations found are discussed.