The Binghamton ADOLESCENT ALCOHOL laboratory is part of two larger research initiatives funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): (1) The Developmental Exposure Alcohol Research Center (DEARC); and the (2) Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood (NADIA). A summary of the research focus of each of these collaborative groups is provided below, including a link to their websites.
Developmental Exposure Alcohol Resistance Research Center (DEARC)
The mission of the DEARC is to understand the damage caused by alcohol on growing people. The resulting disorders include fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol-related neurological disorders, and adolescent alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
The binding theme of the DEARC is that alcohol can have perpetuating impacts that affect humans throughout development, what we call the alcoholism generator (see Miller & Spear (2006) Alcohol Clin Exp Res 30:1466-1469). Accordingly, prenatal exposure to ethanol can lead to the programming of the maturing nervous system and make it more accepting and vulnerable to alcohol exposures at later stages of life, e.g., adolescence, which in turn can prime for a long term problem with alcohol abuse, increasing the probability that the next generation will be prenatally exposed to alcohol, perpetuating the cycle of developmental exposures and abuse.
The ultimate goals of the DEARC are to develop and improve preventative strategies and to ameliorate the adverse consequences of developmental alcohol exposure. These goals will be achieved through three mutually supportive approaches: cutting-edge basic and applied research, community outreach programs, and the education of health care providers.
Our role in this project is to examine the roles of NMDA and GABAA receptors in adolescent-specific insensitivities to aversive effects of alcohol, as well as the greater sensitivity that adolescents show to the social facilitating effects of alcohol.
Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood (NADIA)
The NADIA consortium is a diverse group of neuroscientists brought together to clearly define the persistent effects of adolescent alcohol exposure on adults and to begin to explore the neurobiological mechanisms that are at the root of these effects. Through basic research using an animal model of adolescence in the rat, the Consortium aims to better understand the lasting impacts of adolescent exposure to alcohol, and to ultimately inform and advance social and health care initiatives.
Our role in this project is to examine lasting consequences of adolescent alcohol exposure on social anxiety and anxiolytic properties of alcohol.