Connect with us

    News & Research on Psychology | ShareYrHeart

    When Male Voles Drink Alcohol But Their Partner Doesn’t, the Relationship Suffers



    Summary: A Frontiers in Psychiatry paper reports when male voles drink and their partner abstains, their relationship starts to suffer. The findings could help explain the link between discordant drinking and relationship breakdown in humans.

    Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry.

    The researchers of Oregon Health & Science University studied the effect of alcohol on long-term relationships and found that when a male prairie vole has been provided to intake alcohol, but his female partner doesn’t, the relationship suffers. This is similar to what has been observed in human couples. The study also discovered changes in a specific brain region in the male voles.

    Researchers were not sure whether problematic drinking directly contributes to relationships breaking down, or if the unhappiness people experience in a failing relationship urges them to drink. Understanding whether alcohol’s effects on the brain directly contribute to relationship breakdown could help researchers to acknowledge and treat problematic human behaviour.

    The prairie vole, a small monogamous rodent found in North America, had been used to study this complex phenomenon.

    The researchers allowed male and female prairie voles to establish social bonds over a period of one week. The researchers then gave the males access to a 10% alcohol solution, while their female partners were provided only water (discordant drinking) or also had access to alcohol (concordant drinking). In a control group, both males and females were provided water only.

    The researchers then offered each male a choice between huddling up beside his female partner or a new female. By measuring the time of how long the male spent beside each female, the researchers could determine the bond strength between the male and the original female.

    The researchers observed that the prairie vole couples behaved like human couples in terms of how alcohol affected their relationships. During the social connection test, males who had drunk alone spent less time with their original female partner, whereas those who drank only water or those who had drunk along with their partner huddled with them for longer.

    These findings indicate that contradictory drinking can directly affect prairie voles’ relationships. The researchers next examined whether there were any changes in the brains of the male prairie voles. Confirmly, males who had drunk alone displayed changes in a brain region called the periaqueductal grey that might be responsible for these effects.

    Published: Frontiers in Psychiatry.

    Contact: Andre T Walcott, Ph.D. Candidate, Oregon Health and Science University

    Details: Image source IStock


    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

    Continue Reading