Friday, December 18, 2009

SciAm 60-Second Science: Drink Now, Pay Later (9/23/09)

People who abuse alcohol when they’re young don’t always make good choices as adults. But it’s been unclear whether the drink gives them the stupids, or whether folks prone to poor choices are predisposed to drink.
One way to tackle the question is by studying alcohol intake in animals, like rats. But rats don’t like to drink. So to make the alcohol more palatable, scientists infused it into a tasty “gel matrix”. Yes, the researchers gave teenage rats Jello shots. And the animals’ decision-making ability stayed impaired well into adulthood…as measured by their tendency to chase after rewards with associated high risk rather than taking a sure thing. So, young party animals, remember the words of Faber’s Dean Wormer: “Drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

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