A paradigm for ethanol consumption in head-fixed mice during prefrontal cortical two-photon calcium imaging

Anagha Kalelkar, Grayson Sipe, Ana Raquel Castro E Costa, Ilka M. Lorenzo, My Nguyen, Ivan Linares-Garcia, Elena Vazey, Rafiq Huda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a hub for cognitive behaviors and is a key target for neuroadaptations in alcohol use disorders. Recent advances in genetically encoded sensors and functional microscopy allow multimodal in vivo PFC activity recordings at subcellular and cellular scales. While these methods could enable a deeper understanding of the relationship between alcohol and PFC function/dysfunction, they typically require animals to be head-fixed. Here, we present a method in mice for binge-like ethanol consumption during head-fixation. Male and female mice were first acclimated to ethanol by providing home cage access to 20% ethanol (v/v) for 4 or 8 days. After home cage drinking, mice consumed ethanol from a lick spout during head-fixation. We used two-photon calcium imaging during the head-fixed drinking paradigm to record from a large population of PFC neurons (>1000) to explore how acute ethanol affects their activity. Drinking exerted temporally heterogeneous effects on PFC activity at single neuron and population levels. Intoxication modulated the tonic activity of some neurons while others showed phasic responses around ethanol receipt. Population level activity did not show tonic or phasic modulation but tracked ethanol consumption over the minute-timescale. Network level interactions assessed through between-neuron pairwise correlations were largely resilient to intoxication at the population level while neurons with increased tonic activity showed higher synchrony by the end of the drinking period. By establishing a method for binge-like drinking in head-fixed mice, we lay the groundwork for leveraging advanced microscopy technologies to study alcohol-induced neuroadaptations in PFC and other brain circuits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109800
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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