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Elena Varlinskaya

Research Professor

Ph.D., Institute of Experimental Medicine, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
Area: Behavioral Neuroscience
Phone: 607-777-7164
Office: Science IV, Room 249
Curriculum vitae

Research Interests:  Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology, with a particular emphasis on the neurobehavioral mechanisms of peer-directed social behavior and alcohol abuse during adolescence.

Ongoing Research

Consequences of Ethanol or Stress and the Dynorpnin/Kappa Opioid Receptor System 
The dynorphin (DYN)/kappa opioid receptor (KOR) system may contribute to adolescent-characteristic enhanced vulnerability to stressors and ethanol, given experimental evidence implicating this system in modulation of stress responsiveness, anxiety, and drug abuse. Our ongoing research explores whether stress- and especially ethanol-induced alterations within the DYN/KOR system will be more pronounced in adolescents than adults.

Responsiveness to Social Stimuli and Social Drinking
Human adolescents drink in social situations, however the vast majority of animal models of ethanol intake test animals alone. In contrast to these studies, our new model of social drinking tests animals in social groups, allows for assessments of individual differences in ethanol intake, and produces high consumption levels. We are testing the hypothesis that responsiveness to social stimuli will predict ethanol intake in this social drinking paradigm..

Ethanol or Stress Exposure, Social Anxiety, and Anxiolytic Effects of Ethanol
In humans, social anxiety is viewed as a significant risk factor for the development of alcohol-related problems, and sensitivity to the anxiolytic effects of ethanol may be enhanced in socially anxious individuals. Using our animal models, we are testing the interactions between social anxiety associated with either prior stress or ethanol exposure and effectiveness of ethanol as an anxiolytic agent.

Selected Publications

Morales M, Anderson RI, Spear LP, Varlinskaya EI (2014) Effects of the kappa opioid receptor antagonist, nor-binaltorphimine, on ethanol intake: impact of age and sex. Developmental Psychobiology 56:700-712.

Anderson RI, Morales M, Spear LP, Varlinskaya EI (2014) Pharmacological activation of kappa opioid receptors: aversive effects in adolescent and adult male rats. Psychopharmacology 231:1687-1693.

Morales M, Schatz KC, Anderson RI, Spear LP, Varlinskaya EI (2014) Conditioned taste aversion to ethanol in a social context: impact of age and sex. Behavioural Brain Research 261:323-327.

Varlinskaya EI, Truxell E, Spear LP (2014) Chronic intermittent ethanol exposure during adolescence: effects on social behavior and ethanol sensitivity in adulthood. Alcohol 48:433-444.

Varlinskaya EI, Mooney SM (2014) Acute exposure to ethanol on gestational day 15 affects social motivation of female offspring. Behavioural Brain Research 261:106-109.

Varlinskaya EI, Vetter-O'Hagen CS, Spear LP (2013) Puberty and gonadal hormones: role in adolescent-typical behavioral alterations. Hormones and Behavior 64:343-349.

Varlinskaya EI, Truxell EM, Spear LP (2013) Repeated restraint stress alters sensitivity to the social consequences of ethanol differentially in early and late adolescent rats. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior 113:38-45.

Varlinskaya EI, Vogt BA, Spear LP (2013) Social context induces two unique patterns of c-Fos expression in adolescent and adult rats. Developmental Psychobiology 55:684-697.

Varlinskaya EI, Spear LP (2012) Increases in anxiety-like behavior induced by acute stress are reversed by ethanol in adolescent but not adult rats. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior 100:440-450.

Last Updated: 7/27/16