The Effects of Alcohol and Caffeine on Depressive Systems in Wistar-Kyoto Rats

Senior Capstone Experience by Shaniece Fraser ’22

Submitted to the Department of Psychology

Advised by Dr. Cindy Gibson

Contributor Biography: Born and raised in the Caribbean, Shaniece witnessed the widespread misuse of alcohol. Shaniece has seen loved ones develop chronic illnesses because of prolonged alcohol abuse, but she has also seen loved ones successfully become sober. After seeing many struggle with addiction, she was left with many questions. What leads to alcohol addiction? What are some reasons why people abuse alcohol? In Shaniece’s experience, alcohol addiction is a topic that is often not discussed. It is a topic of interest to her and is something she would love to explore in graduate and post-graduate studies. With the resources at Washington College, Shaniece thought it would be fascinating to start exploring this topic through her senior capstone experience. With her senior capstone experience and post-baccalaureate research experiences, Shaniece hopes to pursue a career in alcohol addiction research.

Description: Depression affects moods and the ability to complete daily tasks. The self-medication hypothesis theory by Dr. Edward Khantzian states that individuals use substances to manage dysphoria and other types of distress. This study examined how two commonly abused drugs, like alcohol and caffeine, affect depressive symptoms, as observed through the depressed strain of rats (Wistar-Kyoto). The two symptoms examined were anhedonia and behavioral despair. Anhedonia is a decreased pleasure from a positive stimulus, measured through the sucrose preference test. Behavioral despair is measured through the forced swim test, which assesses despair based on how a rodent reacts to an unpleasant stimulus or an environment.

Read Shaniece’s SCE below:

Photo by Brendan Christopher on

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