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Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Publication Date



alcohol addiction, estrus, mesolimbic reward system, microdialysis, fast scan cyclic voltametry


This thesis seeks to synthesize previous studies that have shown sex differences in response to drugs of abuse, specifically cocaine and alcohol. These differences have been noted through the study of behavior, nitric oxide levels in the medial amygdala, and dopamine release within the mesolimbic system. Importantly, it has been consistently found that these differences seem to correlate with the changing hormonal environment produced by the estrus cycle in females. Furthermore, this thesis examines new research on how the estrus cycle modulates dopamine release within the reward circuit through the utilization of fast scan cyclic voltammetry and microdialysis techniques. A dosage response curve was created for several clinically relevant doses of alcohol of basal dopamine response in a male rats and differential effects at each dose were observed. Additionally, it has been found that blood catecholamine levels rise in response to ethanol, evidence of a peripheral mechanism modulating a central nervous system process within the mesolimbic system. Finally, dopamine response in the reward circuit in response to ethanol has been analyzed both between male and female rats and across the estrus cycle.