Evolutionary underpinnings of excessive alcohol consumption

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Given our close phylogenetic relatedness, non-human primates, in principle, could serve as an ideal model for alcoholism. Indeed, many studies in both humans and rhesus macaques show relationships between excessive alcohol consumption, aggression and serotonergic function, as measured by concentrations of the principal metabolite of serotonin, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). An important behavioral predictor of excessive alcohol consumption in both humans and rhesus monkeys is the propensity toward impulsivity. Integrating behavioral and neuroendocrine data from captive and semi-free-ranging rhesus macaques, we posit that benefits derived from impulsive and aggressive behaviors in some contexts might contribute indirectly to the maintenance of traits involved in alcoholism and excessive alcohol intake.

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