Friday November 16, 2018

Brain’s immune system affects the drinking behavior at night, suggests study

The team switched off the impulse to drink alcohol by giving mice a drug that blocks a specific response from the immune system in the brain

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Drinking behavior can alter risk of developing cancer. Pixabay
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  • Brain’s immunity has been found to affect one’s drinking behavior at night
  • The team switched off the impulse to drink alcohol by giving mice a drug
  • A significant reduction in the mice’s alcohol drinking behavior was reported 

New Delhi, September 17, 2017: Love to drown yourself in a peg of whiskey each evening? It may be due to impulsiveness of the brain’s immune system, according to a study.

The findings showed a link between the brain’s immunity and the motivation to drink alcohol at night.

This may be because our body’s circadian rhythms affect the “reward” signals we receive in the brain from drug-related behaviour and the peak time for this reward typically occurs during the evening or dark phase, the researchers said.

“Alcohol is the world’s most commonly consumed drug and there is a greater need than ever to understand the biological mechanisms that drive our need to drink alcohol,” said lead author Jon Jacobsen, PhD student at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

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“We wanted to test what the role of the brain’s immune system might have on that reward and whether or not we could switch it off,” Jacobsen added.

In the study, published in the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, the team switched off the impulse to drink alcohol by giving mice a drug that blocks a specific response from the immune system in the brain.

The researchers administered the drug (+)-Naltrexone, which is known to block the immune receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in mice.

The results showed a significant reduction in alcohol drinking behaviour by mice that had been given (+)-Naltrexone, specifically at night when the reward for drug-related behaviour is usually at its greatest.

“We concluded that blocking a specific part of the brain’s immune system did in fact substantially decrease the motivation of mice to drink alcohol in the evening,” Jacobsen said.

These findings point to the need for further research to understand the implications for drinking behaviour in humans, the researchers noted. (IANS)

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Cannabis Use Has Lasting Effects on Cognitive Skills in Teenagers Than Alcohol

Moreover, these increased with cannabis use and also were long-lasting compared to alcohol

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While both alcohol and marijuana misuse are known to be associated with impairments in learning, memory, attention and decision-making, as well as with lower academic performance, a new study claimed that cannabis use has lasting effects on cognitive skills in teenagers than alcohol.

The findings, led by researchers at Universite de Montreal, showed cannabis affected cognitive functions such as perceptual reasoning, memory recall, working memory and inhibitory control.

Moreover, these increased with cannabis use and also were long-lasting compared to alcohol.

“Increases in cannabis use, but not alcohol consumption, showed additional concurrent and lagged effects on cognitive functions such as perceptual reasoning, memory recall, working memory and inhibitory control,” said Patricia Conrod, from the varsity.

“Of particular concern was the finding that cannabis use was associated with lasting effects on a measure of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for other addictive behaviours, and might explain why early onset cannabis use is a risk factor for other addictions,” added Jean-Francois G. Morin, doctoral student at Montreal.

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Cannabis more ‘toxic’ to teenage brains than alcohol: Study. Pixabay

“Some of these effects are even more pronounced when consumption begins earlier in adolescence,” Morin added.

For the study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the team followed a sample of 3,826 Canadian high school students from 7th to 10th grade over a period of four years.

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In a context where policies and attitudes regarding substance use are being reconsidered, this research highlights the importance of protecting youth from the adverse effects of consumption through greater investment in drug-prevention programmes.

“While this study did not detect effects of teenage alcohol consumption on cognitive development, the neurotoxic effects may be observable in specific subgroups differentiated based on the level of consumption, gender or age,” Morin said. (IANS)