Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelors of Science

Degree Name



College of Psychology

Honors College

Farquhar Honors College Thesis

Honors College Dean

Andrea Nevins, Ph.D., M.F.A.

Home College Dean

Karen Grosby, Ed.D.

Faculty Advisor

Lisa Robison, Ph.D.

Faculty Advisor

Robert Speth, Ph.D.


Binge drinking is a major concern, especially among college students. Positive results have been demonstrated in clinical trials that utilized exercise to treat alcohol use disorder, but questions remain regarding the type of exercise and how it should be administered across ages and sexes. Studies using animal models have investigated the neurobiological mechanisms of this treatment to improve understanding of how to implement it. One of the mechanisms under investigation is the endogenous opioid system, specifically the kappa opioid receptor (KOR) subtype. Previous research has demonstrated that exercise treatment concurrent with ethanol exposure attenuated an ethanol-induced increase in KOR receptor density; however, exercise during withdrawal from binge drinking remains unexplored but is important for translational relevance to clinical use. This study aims to determine the effect of exercise on anxiety-like behaviors associated with binge drinking withdrawal, which can contribute to relapse. Changes in KOR binding in the brain associated with binge drinking and exercise were also examined, as well as how sex may influence these outcomes. Exercise tended to attenuate anxiety-like behavior in ethanol-exposed mice, demonstrated by increased center activity in the open field and increased time spent in the open areas of the elevated zero maze. Taken together, these results suggest that exercise is an effective treatment for the symptoms of withdrawal from binge drinking. A sex difference was found such that males have greater specific binding to KORs in the nucleus accumbens and claustrum compared to females.