Cross-Species Translational Findings in the Discriminative Stimulus Effects of Ethanol

  • Daicia C. Allen
  • Matthew M. Ford
  • Kathleen A. GrantEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 39)


The progress on understanding the pharmacological basis of ethanol’s discriminative stimulus effects has been substantial, but appears to have plateaued in the past decade. Further, the cross-species translational efforts are clear in laboratory animals, but have been minimal in human subject studies. Research findings clearly demonstrate that ethanol produces a compound stimulus with primary activity through GABA and glutamate receptor systems, particularly ionotropic receptors, with additional contribution from serotonergic mechanisms. Further progress should capitalize on chemogenetic and optogenetic techniques in laboratory animals to identify the neural circuitry involved in mediating the discriminative stimulus effects of ethanol. These infrahuman studies can be guided by in vivo imaging of human brain circuitry mediating ethanol’s subjective effects. Ultimately, identifying receptors systems, as well as where they are located within brain circuitry, will transform the use of drug discrimination procedures to help identify possible treatment or prevention strategies for alcohol use disorder.


Alcohol Drug discrimination Ethanol Interspecies Translational 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daicia C. Allen
    • 1
  • Matthew M. Ford
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kathleen A. Grant
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral NeurosciencesOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Division of NeuroscienceOregon National Primate Research CenterBeavertonUSA

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