Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Ryan K. Bachtell

Second Advisor

Heidi Day

Third Advisor

Garrett Bredeson

Abstract

Many people consume a variety of beverages like coffee, tea and sodas that contain caffeine as one of their principal ingredients. In recent years, adolescent caffeine consumption has increased significantly, reason why it is important to recognize and understand its effects in behaviors displayed later in adulthood. Little is known about the effects of adolescent caffeine consumption on impulsivity modulatory processes, which can play a crucial role in the development of several mental disorders. In this experiment, a rat model was used to explore the effects of adolescent caffeine consumption in a behavioral test of impulsive action during adulthood. Exposure to caffeine was done during a 28-day period during adolescence, which was followed by the application of an impulsivity behavioral test, the Differential Reinforcement at Lower levels (DRL) schedule. Our results show that rats that consume caffeine during adolescent performed better in the DRL task, exhibiting more regulation of impulsive behavior. The most outstanding differences between the caffeine and the water consuming groups were found in the efficiency index and the higher percentage of correct trials exhibited by the caffeine-consuming group. Findings reveal an early enhancement of performance in the DRL task for the caffeine consuming animals. These findings add to the existing literature on caffeine’s effects on cognitive enhancement and control of inhibition regulation.

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