Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences

Program or Major

Biomedical Science: Med/Vet Science

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Sergios Charntikov


Alcohol use disorder is a chronic, relapsing brain condition that affects 29.5 million Americans. The disease is characterized by loss of control over drinking, continued use of alcohol in the face of negative consequences, and the experience of withdrawal symptoms. While there are several forms of treatment available for alcohol use disorder, 95% of patients experience at least one relapse during recovery. Currently, the high tendency to relapse remains the major challenge standing in the way of successful treatment for alcohol use disorder. Research is continuing to be conducted into the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying relapse into alcohol use, and preclinical studies are using novel methods to investigate possible new avenues of treatment. The purpose of this study is to determine a vulnerability to relapse brain phenotype for alcohol use disorder, to better understand the brain regions involved in alcohol-use relapse and aid in future treatment research. The study uses a rodent model, with a project design utilizing behavioral economics to incorporate behavioral and neurobiological components to the project. Our preliminary results show differentiation between rats with high economic demand and low economic demand for ethanol. Those with high economic demand are more likely to persist in the face of negative consequences and reinstate ethanol-seeking behavior after a period of extinction. While this data is not yet significant, we expect it to be with the addition of more subjects. The neurobiological data for this study will be collected in summer 2023.