Drinking behavior of the isogenic mouse strain C57BL/6J was analyzed into nongenetic components: stochastic fluctuations, responses to fluctuations in the current environment, and persistent differences between individual animals. The latter accounted for the major part of the variance. The variance was neither increased by differences in diet during the postweaning rapid growth period (prior to assay for drinking choice) nor diminished by uniformity of treatment during this period, suggesting that significant differentiation had occurred prior to weaning. The large variance between animals could be explained by assuming that the genetic role in consumption of alcohol by C57BL mice is permissive--a relative insensitivity to the aversive orosensory and pharmacological effects of 10% alcohol--rather than a specific drug-seeking predisposition
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