Ethanol-Induced Effects on Sting Extension Response and Punishment Learning

Discussion in 'Bee News' started by Americasbeekeeper, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    Ethanol-Induced Effects on Sting Extension Response and Punishment Learning in the Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
    Acute ethanol administration is associated with sedation and analgesia as well as behavioral disinhibition and memory loss but the mechanisms underlying these effects remain to be elucidated. During the past decade, insects have emerged as important model systems to understand the neural and genetic bases of alcohol effects. However, novel assays to assess ethanol's effects on complex behaviors in social or isolated contexts are necessary. Here we used the honey bee as an especially relevant model system since bees are typically exposed to ethanol in nature when collecting standing nectar crop of flowers, and there is recent evidence for independent biological significance of this exposure for social behavior. Bee's inhibitory control of the sting extension response (SER) and a conditioned-place aversion assay were used to study ethanol effects on analgesia, behavioral disinhibition, and associative learning. Our findings indicate that although ethanol, in a dose-dependent manner, increases SER thresholds (analgesic effects), it disrupts the ability of honey bees to inhibit SER and to associate aversive stimuli with their environment. These results suggest that ethanol's effects on analgesia, behavioral disinhibition and associative learning are common across vertebrates and invertebrates. These results add to the use of honey bees as an ethanol model to understand ethanol's effects on complex, socially relevant behaviors.