Saturday December 15, 2018

What Causes Alcohol Addiction?

The team analysed GAT-3 levels in brain tissue from deceased humans who had documented alcohol addiction

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What Causes Alcohol Addiction?
What Causes Alcohol Addiction? (IANS)
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Molecular mechanisms including lower levels of a protein in the brain may be the reason why addicts choose alcohol over an alternative reward, finds a study that may help improve treatment for alcohol dependence.

The study suggested that the level of a transporter protein GAT-3, situated in the amygdala region of the brain — responsible for emotional reactions — was lower among the alcohol addicts.

“We have to understand that a core feature of addiction is that you know it is going to harm you, potentially even kill you, and nevertheless something has gone wrong with the motivational control and you keep doing it,” said Markus Heilig from the Linkoping University in Sweden.

In the study, published in the journal Science, the team used a mouse model to measure the expression of hundreds of genes in five areas of the brain.

What Causes Alcohol Addiction?
Alcoholic beverages. Pixabay

The team investigated the role of reduced GAT-3 levels in rats that initially preferred sweetened water over alcohol. After the reduction, they were again presented with the choice between alcohol and sugar.

They found that 15 per cent of the outbred rats chose alcohol over a high-value reward.

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“Decreasing the expression of the transporter had a striking effect on the behaviour of these rats. Animals that had preferred the sweet taste over alcohol reversed their preference and started choosing alcohol,” said lead investigator Eric Augier.

Further, the team analysed GAT-3 levels in brain tissue from deceased humans who had documented alcohol addiction. They found lower levels of the protein in them than in the control individuals. (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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cannabis flower marijuana

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.

Cannabis
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)