BC students, prof honored for paper on behavior
Two Bridgewater College students, one alumnus and a professor of psychology have taken top honors at an international conference for a paper they wrote about the effects of alcohol-caffeine drinks on behavior.
Seniors and psychology majors Tara Nicely of New Market, Va., and Andrew Moon of Forest, Va., joined Dr. Brian M. Kelley, associate professor of psychology at Bridgewater, and 2011 graduate John Graybeal, in writing “The Longitudinal Effects of Alcohol and Caffeine on Anxiety, Depression and Reward in Mice,” which won the “Best Paper Award” at the International Organization for Social Science and Behavioral Research Conference in Atlantic City, N.J.
Another Bridgewater senior and psychology major, Martha Joslyn of Tappahannock, Va., contributed to the research.
“The competition was across all presenters, which included an international audience as well as junior through senior faculty and undergraduate and graduate students,” Kelley said. “Tara Nicely delivered the presentation and she did a remarkable job.”
Kelley said the paper culminated two semesters of modeling the emerging trend of alcohol-caffeine drinks, such as FourLoko. He said consumers of such products assume that because alcohol is a sedative and caffeine is a stimulant, the two cancel each other out.
“We found just the opposite,” Kelley said. “When a high dose of caffeine was added to alcohol it actually enhanced, not blocked, alcohol’s effect on reward as well as mood. Furthermore, these effects were impacted by age and sex. Our results help explain why adding caffeine to alcohol ultimately results in greater consumption of alcohol.”
Kelley added that the study represents one of the first that examines the developmental effects of these drinks on important behaviors that govern abuse.
Nicely is the daughter of Randy and Pamela Nicely of New Market, Va.
Moon is the son of Wendy Moon of Forest, Va.
Joslyn is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Allen Joslyn of Tappahannock, Va.
Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to nearly 1,700 undergraduate students.