Social Learning and Alcohol – Post 1

Hello everyone,

My name is Amir Arsalan, and I’m currently a junior (rising senior) at the College. I’m majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Finance. This summer I will be working with Dr. Pamela Hunt. Our research looks at the type of learning that occurs in rats through pre-adolescent social interactions involving alcohol cues.

The process of olfaction is one important type of learning in rats, especially with regard to food sources. Rats are more likely to seek out foods that they’ve been exposed to by smell from other rats that have previously ingested that same food. As such, it is believed that rats are more likely to ingest alcohol at a later period in life due to early exposure. If the rats learn something positive about the alcohol, then it is expected that they will have more difficulty learning something negative about alcohol. Our study uses a counter-conditioning and taste aversion procedure to answer this question.

I believe our project can contribute to future studies involving alcoholism, especially as it pertains to early exposure to alcohol. I’m extremely excited about this project and look forward to working with Dr. Hunt this summer.

– Amir


  1. wmresearcher says:

    Hello Amir,

    What a compelling project! Is the intent of this research that it eventually be applied to humans? If so, this could explain why alcoholism tends to run in families: kids become hooked by smelling the alcohol that their parents drink.

    Neuroscience and Finance? What an interesting combination? I wonder if the peer influences you’re researching could be applied in non-olfactory ways, such as familial spending patterns. I look forward to hearing how this project turns out!


  2. Sounds like a fascinating project Amir, I’m excited to see your results at the Symposium this year.