Saturday, December 29, 2007
Stay the Course Rats
The New York Times has an excellent article about binge drinking and their effect on rats years after the binging, aptly titled, "The Hangover."
Much of the evidence for the impact of frequent binge-drinking comes from some simple but elegant studies done on lab rats by Fulton T. Crews and his former student Jennifer Obernier. Dr. Crews, the director of the University of North Carolina Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, and Dr. Obernier have shown that after a longstanding abstinence following heavy binge-drinking, adult rats can learn effectively — but they cannot relearn.
When put into a tub of water and forced to continue swimming until they find a platform on which to stand, the sober former binge-drinking rats and the normal control rats (who had never been exposed to alcohol) learned how to find the platform equally well. But when the experimenters abruptly moved the platform, the two groups of rats had remarkably different performances. The rats without previous exposure to alcohol, after some brief circling, were able to find the new location. The former binge-drinking rats, however, were unable to find the new platform; they became confused and kept circling the site of the old platform.
His latest bit of bull-headedness can be seen in blocking the funding for the troops that was, oh, so imperative only days ago. That's right, Bush refused to sign the bill Congress passed on a bipartisan basis that funded a 3.5 percent pay increase for the troops as well as improved "veterans' health benefits."
But cheer-up, America! The article notes that exercising appears to ameliorate the destructive effects of heavy drinking; and as everyone knows, there is very little our fearless leader likes to do more than to exercise unless you include saber rattling and obstructing Congress.