Saturday September 21, 2019

Stimulating Brain Cells Stops Binge Drinking

The researchers activated the dopamine neurons through a type of deep brain stimulation using a new technique called optogenetics

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In the experiments, rats were trained to drink alcohol in a way that mimics human binge-drinking behaviour. Pixabay

It is now possible to use gene therapy in the brain to not only treat binge drinking but other substance abuse, neurological diseases and mental illnesses.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo have found a way to change alcohol drinking behaviour in rodents, using the emerging technique of optogenetics – using light to stimulate neurons.

In the experiments, rats were trained to drink alcohol in a way that mimics human binge-drinking behaviour.

“By stimulating certain dopamine neurons in a precise pattern, resulting in low but prolonged levels of dopamine release, we could prevent the rats from binging. The rats just flat out stopped drinking,” said Caroline E. Bass, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Interestingly, the rodents continued to avoid alcohol even after the stimulation of neurons ended, Bass added.

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Representational image. Pixabay

The researchers activated the dopamine neurons through a type of deep brain stimulation using a new technique called optogenetics.

“Optogenetics allows you to stimulate only one type of neuron at a time,” said the study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

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“The results have application not only in understanding and treating alcohol-drinking behaviours in humans, but also in many devastating mental illnesses and neurological diseases that have a dopamine component,” said Bass.

The findings are the first to demonstrate a causal relationship between the release of dopamine in the brain and drinking behaviours of animals. (IANS)

Next Story

Society Needs to Combat Second Hand Effects of Drinking as People Suffer Alcohol’s Harm

These harms could be threats or harassment, ruined property or vandalism, physical aggression, harms related to driving

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Society, Drinking, Alcohol
An estimated 53 million adults -- experienced harm because of someone else's drinking in the last 12 months. Pixabay

Just like second-hand smoking, society needs to combat the second-hand effects of drinking as millions of people are suffering alcohol’s harm because of someone else’s drinking, warn a study led by an Indian-origin scientist.

An analysis of US national survey data showed that some 21 per cent of women and 23 per cent of men — an estimated 53 million adults — experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months.

These harms could be threats or harassment, ruined property or vandalism, physical aggression, harms related to driving or financial or family problems.

The most common harm was threats or harassment, reported by 16 per cent of survey respondents, said researchers led by Madhabika B. Nayak of the Alcohol Research Group, a programme of the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California.

Society, Drinking, Alcohol
Just like second-hand smoking, society needs to combat the second-hand effects of drinking. Pixabay

The specific types of harm experienced differed by gender. Women were more likely to report financial and family problems, whereas ruined property, vandalism and physical aggression were more likely to be reported by men.

There is “considerable risk for women from heavy, often male, drinkers in the household and, for men, from drinkers outside their family,” wrote the authors in a paper published in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Additional factors, including age and the person’s own drinking, were also important.

People younger than age 25 had a higher risk of experiencing harm from someone else’s drinking.

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Further, almost half of men and women who themselves were heavy drinkers said they had been harmed by someone else’s drinking.

Even people who drank but not heavily were at two to three times the risk of harassment, threats and driving-related harm compared with abstainers.

“Control policies, such as alcohol pricing, taxation, reduced availability, and restricting advertising, may be the most effective ways to reduce not only alcohol consumption but also alcohol’s harm to persons other than the drinker,” said Nayak. (IANS)