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Archive for the ‘Alcoholism’ Category

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“Research from McGill University suggests that people who are vulnerable to developing alcoholism exhibit a distinctive brain response when drinking alcohol, according to a new study by Prof. Marco Leyton, of McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry. Compared to people at low risk for alcohol-use problems, those at high risk showed a greater dopamine response in a brain pathway that increases desire for rewards.”

“We found that people vulnerable to developing alcoholism experienced an unusually large brain dopamine response when they took a drink,” said Leyton. “This large response might energize reward-seeking behaviors and counteract the sedative effects of alcohol. Conversely, people who experience minimal dopamine release when they drink might find the sedative effects of alcohol especially pronounced.”

via Alcoholism could be linked to a hyper-active brain dopamine system.

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According to a new study by Swedish researchers at GARP (Göteborg Alcohol Research Project), alcohol abuse appears to be much more detrimental to the female brain than to the male brain in the short term. The findings are disturbing, and pretty clear. GARP, a multidisciplinary team, found that both men and women experienced a loss of serotonergic function, but that women showed a significant loss after only four years of excessive alcohol abuse, whereas men showed the same significant loss after 14 years of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse has been associated with reduced serotonin function, dopamine function and a reduction of noradrenaline activity. This was the first time all three functions were investigated in the same alcohol dependent individuals.

Researchers were shocked to note the disparity between females and males. Both showed a 45% decrease in serotonin function, but the decrease was evident in women after just four years of alcohol abuse. Gender difference hasn’t been considered a major factor in the treatment of alcoholism up to this point, but may need to be altered based on these findings. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has enormous influence over many brain functions. Some of the functions it influences are appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, mood, behavior (including sexual and hallucinogenic behavior), cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, endocrine regulation, and depression. the 45% decrease is significant. It is not known how much of the function can return if abstinence is employed, nor whether it can return fully unaided.

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