Behavioral test shows promise in predicting future problems with alcohol
Image via Shutterstock
(Medical Xpress)—By administering a simple behavioral test, Yale researchers were able to predict which mice would later exhibit alcoholism-related behaviors such as the inability to stop seeking alcohol and a tendency to relapse, the scientists report in the Aug. 26 issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The findings suggest that a similar test for people might be able to identify individuals who are at high risk of developing alcohol problems before they begin drinking.
"We are trying to understand the neurobiology underlying familial risk for alcoholism," said Jane Taylor, the Charles B.G. Murphy Professor of Psychiatry and professor of psychology at the Yale School of Medicine and senior author of the study. "What is encouraging about this study is that we have identified both a behavioral indicator and a molecule that explains that risk."
Many high school- and college-aged students abuse alcohol during their school years, but only a minority end up dependent upon alcohol later in life. While there is a clear genetic risk for alcoholism, not all children of alcoholics become dependent. Scientists have been busy trying to find ways to predict which adolescents are at greatest risk before drinking begins.
In a classic Pavlovian experiment, the Yale team found mice that reacted the most to a food cue also exhibited greater alcoholism-related behaviors. Importantly, the mice did not differ in other food-seeking behaviors. The researchers also identified a role for neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) and its modified form, PSA-NCAM, known to be involved in brain plasticity. Mice with low levels of PSA-NCAM in an area of the prefrontal cortex seemed unable to control their alcohol-seeking behavior, while the reward-seeking behavior of mice with higher levels of the molecule was more flexible and less indicative of addiction.
"This would make sense since alcoholism is associated with a lack of neurobiological and behavioral plasticity," Taylor said. "The brains of alcoholics seem to get stuck in the same patterns of activity."
Journal reference: Nature Neuroscience
Provided by Yale University
- New strain of lab mice mimics human alcohol consumption patterns Dec 12, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Heredity behind subjective effects of alcohol May 23, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- High novelty-seeking and low avoidance of harm contribute to alcohol dependence Mar 03, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Scientists explore new link between genetics, alcoholism and the brain Apr 12, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Drinking alcohol shrinks critical brain regions in genetically vulnerable mice Feb 15, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
1 hour ago From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
17 hours ago I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
For combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 'fear circuitry' in the brain never rests
Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or ...
Neuroscience 3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
The neural machinery underlying our olfactory sense continues to be an enigma for neuroscience. A recent review in Neuron seeks to expand traditional ideas about how neurons in the olfactory bulb might encode information about ...
Neuroscience 14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—What if the quality of your work depends more on your focus on the piano keys or canvas or laptop than your musical or painting or computing skills? If target users can be convinced, they ...
Neuroscience 15 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Neurological disorders can have a devastating impact on the lives of sufferers and their families.
Neuroscience 20 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
If you're a left-brain thinker, chances are you use your right hand to hold your cell phone up to your right ear, according to a newly published study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Neuroscience May 16, 2013 | 2 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Big names in medicine are set to give an upbeat assessment of the war on AIDS on Tuesday, 30 years after French researchers identified the virus that causes the disease.
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
In 2008 researchers from the University of Southern Denmark showed that the drug thioridazine, which has previously been used to treat schizophrenia, is also a powerful weapon against antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as ...
12 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Working with lab mice models of multiple sclerosis (MS), UC Davis scientists have detected a novel molecular target for the design of drugs that could be safer and more effective than current FDA-approved ...
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
In order to avoid harms associated with alcohol consumption, in 2009 the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism issued guidelines that define low-risk drinking. These guidelines differ for men and women: no more ...
12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Treatment for alcohol use disorders works best if the patient actively understands and incorporates the interventions provided in the clinic. Multiple factors can influence both the type and degree of neurocognitive abnormalities ...
12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |