Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why People Engage In Risky Behavior While Intoxicated: Imaging Study Provides Glimpse Of Alcohol's Effect On Brain

Date:
April 30, 2008
Source:
Society for Neuroscience
Summary:
New brain imaging research published this week shows that, after consuming alcohol, social drinkers had decreased sensitivity in brain regions involved in detecting threats, and increased activity in brain regions involved in reward. The study, in the April 30 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, is the first human brain imaging study of alcohol's effect on the response of neuronal circuits to threatening stimuli.

New brain imaging research published this week shows that, after consuming alcohol, social drinkers had decreased sensitivity in brain regions involved in detecting threats, and increased activity in brain regions involved in reward. The study, in the April 30 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, is the first human brain imaging study of alcohol's effect on the response of neuronal circuits to threatening stimuli.

"The key finding of this study is that after alcohol exposure, threat-detecting brain circuits can't tell the difference between a threatening and non-threatening social stimulus," said Marina Wolf, PhD, at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, who was unaffiliated with the study. "At one end of the spectrum, less anxiety might enable us to approach a new person at a party. But at the other end of the spectrum, we may fail to avoid an argument or a fight. By showing that alcohol exerts this effect in normal volunteers by acting on specific brain circuits, these study results make it harder for someone to believe that risky decision-making after alcohol 'doesn't apply to me'," Wolf said.

Working with a dozen healthy participants who drink socially, research fellow Jodi Gilman, working with senior author Daniel Hommer, MD, at the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study activity in emotion-processing brain regions during alcohol exposure. Over two 45-minute periods, the study participants received either alcohol or a saline solution intravenously and were shown images of fearful facial expressions. (Previous studies have shown that expressions of fear signal a threatening situation and activate specific brain regions.)

The same group of participants received both alcohol and placebo, on two separate days.

Comparing brain activity, Gilman's team found that when participants received the placebo infusion, fearful facial expressions spurred greater activity than neutral expressions in the amygdala, insula, and parahippocampal gyrus--brain regions involved in fear and avoidance--as well as in the brain's visual system. However, these regions showed no increased brain activity when the participants were intoxicated.

In addition, alcohol activated striatal areas of the brain that are important components of the reward system. This confirms previous findings and supports the idea that activation of the brain's reward system is a common feature of all drugs of abuse. Gilman's team found that the level of striatal activation was associated with how intoxicated the participants reported feeling. These striatal responses help account for the stimulating and addictive properties of alcohol.

"I think the authors have set the standard for how studies on acute alcohol consumption should be conducted in the fMRI literature," says Read Montague, PhD, at the Baylor College of Medicine, also unaffiliated with the study. "The findings are a stepping stone to more liberal use of imaging methodologies to advance our understanding of addiction."

Since its development in 1993, fMRI has allowed the noninvasive mapping of function in various regions of the human brain. This technological advance is an important source of information for neuroscientists in a range of fields.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Neuroscience. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Neuroscience. "Why People Engage In Risky Behavior While Intoxicated: Imaging Study Provides Glimpse Of Alcohol's Effect On Brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080429204252.htm>.
Society for Neuroscience. (2008, April 30). Why People Engage In Risky Behavior While Intoxicated: Imaging Study Provides Glimpse Of Alcohol's Effect On Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080429204252.htm
Society for Neuroscience. "Why People Engage In Risky Behavior While Intoxicated: Imaging Study Provides Glimpse Of Alcohol's Effect On Brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080429204252.htm (accessed August 19, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New numbers show a decade's worth of changes in the number of kids with disabilities. They suggest mental disabilities are up; physical ones are down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Newsy (Aug. 17, 2014) New Hampshire's governor declared a state of emergency after more than 40 overdoses of synthetic marijuana in one week throughout the state. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins