Alcoholism may be associated with an overactive dopamine system in the brain

Researchers ( McGillUniversity ) suggest that individuals who are susceptible to the development of alcoholism, also show excellent brain reaction when consuming alcoholic beverages, as the results of the study, led by Professor Mark Leighton ( ProfessorMarcoLeyton , departmentofPsychiatry ). Compared to individuals at low risk of developing problems associated with significant alcohol use, those at increased risk also have higher dopamine levels.a response in a biological pathway in the brain that increases the desire for rewards. The findings, scientists say, can help shed light on why some individuals are at greater risk of alcohol problems, moreover, the research results are important for the development of new treatment options.

According to Professor Leighton, there is already a body of evidence that there are multiple biological pathways involved in alcoholism, each associated with a distinct set of personality traits and neurobiological properties. Individual differences of this kind are likely to influence a wide range of behaviors, both positive and negative. This research suggests that the tendency to have a greater dopamine response with alcohol consumption may contribute to one or more biological pathways.

For the experiment, 26 healthy individuals (18 men, 8 women), aged 18 to 30, who consumed alcohol within the social norm were invited. Researchers further identified high-risk participants based on personal characteristics and decreased response to alcohol intoxication; also, positron emission tomography of the brain of each participant was performed twice after drinking juice or alcohol (three drinks within 15 minutes).

It has been found that individuals who are susceptible to the development of alcoholism also have an unusually large dopamine response when drinking alcoholic beverages.

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