The Neural Basis of Ethanol Dependence: is the Withdrawal Reaction Mediated by Localized Changes in Synaptic Excitability?

  • Bruce E. Hunter
  • Don W. Walker
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 126)


The development of tolerance and physical dependence upon ethanol has been considered to reflect an interaction of this compound with the homeostatic mechanisms of cells within the central nervous system (cf. Kalant et al., 1971). According to this view, the presence of ethanol within the nervous system leads to the mobilization of cellular adaptive processes, which counteract the acute actions of ethanol and underlie the development of tolerance. Upon cessation of ethanol intake, these cellular adaptive processes constitute an aberrant homeostatic condition, which is manifested by the appearance of an acute withdrawal reaction. This notion has been unrivaled in its simplicity and has served as a template for the study of the phenomena of tolerance and dependence for all drugs of abuse. A variety of candidate cellular adaptive processes were initially proposed (Collier, 1965; Martin, 1965; Jaffe and Sharpless, 1965; Goldstein and Goldstein, 1968) and the search for neurochemical correlates of ethanol dependence has consumed the energies of countless investigators over the past decade.


Spike Activity Neural Basis Simple Main Effect Epileptiform Activity Physical Dependence 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce E. Hunter
    • 1
  • Don W. Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Veterans Administration Hospital and Department of Neuroscience, College of MedicineUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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