Tuesday February 19, 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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drinking
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.

drinking
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

Early Onset of Drinking May Lead to Alcohol Dependence, Says Study

To prevent or delay early onset of drinking, more should be known about the modifiable circumstances that enable these behaviours

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

Early onset of drinking and intoxication may lead to heavy drinking and alcohol dependence among people, warn researchers from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in the US.

Researchers concluded this in a study on the correlation between early age (less than 15 years) and contexts of first intoxication such as one’s own home, friends’ homes or outdoor settings, and the problems that arise in these contexts.

For their research, the team studied 405 adolescent (aged 15-18 years) drinkers.

According to the findings, published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, about one-third of adolescent drinkers experienced their first intoxication by the age of 15, about one-third experienced it after 15, and about one-third had consumed alcohol but never to the stage of intoxication.

A new drug can reduce Alcohol addiction in teenagers
Early age drinking linked to alcohol dependence: Study. Pixabay

In addition, drinkers reported drinking most frequently at homes, followed by outdoor settings, and then in restaurants, bars or nightclubs.

The early age of first intoxication was found to be strongly linked to drinking in outdoor settings, but not to drinking at home.

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The results of the study emphasise importance of contexts in early alcohol initiation and the resulting problems to inform development of preventive interventions specific to contexts, said Lipperman-Kreda, a researcher from the varsity.

To prevent or delay early onset of drinking, more should be known about the modifiable circumstances that enable these behaviours, the study suggested. (IANS)