In this Aug. 16, 2005 file photo, a man sips a glass of wine outside a bar in central London.Â (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
Scientists say a cure for alcoholism could be on the horizon thanks to the remarkable discovery of neurons in the brain that play a role in whether one glass of wine turns into a bottle.
Texas AM researchers explain the part of your brain known as the dorsomedial striatum contains neurons with spiny protrusions, each with two types of dopamine receptors.
One type, called D1, encourages action but is structurally altered when large amounts of alcohol are consumed. The alteration causes the neurons to activate with less stimulation and the result is a vicious circle: Drinking alcohol causes easier activation and activation tells your brain to keep drinking.
â€œIf these neurons are excited, you will want to drink alcohol,â€ lead author Jun Wang explains in a release. â€œYouâ€™ll have a craving.â€ The study in the Journal of Neuroscience explains mice brains exposed to booze had more mature protrusions in D1 neurons compared to brains that werenâ€™t exposed to the stuff.
Mice with more mature protrusionsâ€”where long-term memories are storedâ€”downed large amounts of alcohol when given the chance. However, when the mice were given a drug to block the D1 receptor, cravings diminished.
â€œThis is the major finding,â€ says Wang. â€œD1 receptors are essential for alcohol consumptionâ€ and â€œif we suppress this activity, weâ€™re able to suppress alcohol consumption.â€ Wang adds his â€œultimate goal is to understand how the addicted brain works â€¦ and once we do, one day, weâ€™ll be able to suppress the craving for another round of drinks and ultimately, stop the cycle of alcoholism.â€ (Get to know historyâ€™s most high-functioning alcoholics.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: Could This Discovery End Alcoholism?
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