|Sagittal human brain with cortical regions delineated. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
New research zeroes in on the brain...The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism teamed up with the University of North Carolina's Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies to examine the link between alcoholism and anxiety disorders. Most scientific research starts with studying animals and their reaction to stimuli. And this new study is no exception. These researchers studied mice seeking to explain the link between alcoholism and anxiety disorders including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Specifically the researchers examined the affects of chronic alcohol consumption on the brain.
The research process...The scientists studied two groups of mice: over a period of one month one group of mice was given alcohol doses equal to double the legal driving limit humans while the control group was given no alcohol.
The mice were given a cue (a tone) followed by a shock. The mice soon learn that the tone will be followed by a shock. In the beginning the shock brings on fear in both groups. Gradually the researchers only gave the tone cue and ceased following the cue with a shock. As the study progressed the mice who were given the alcohol doses continued to display fear response (even though the shock was eliminated), while the control group (non-alcohol) stopped displaying fear after the tone.
According to WRAL's report on the study:
"...researchers traced the effect to differences in the nerve cells in the brain's prefrontal cortex. The key receptor, called NDMA, was suppressed in the mice that received alcohol."
Watch WRAL's news video covering this new research...
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