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Brain dopamine may serve as a risk marker for alcohol use disorders
Date:8/9/2013

xample, a large dopamine response might energize reward seeking and counteract the sedative effects that are the focus of the intoxication measure. Conversely, people who experience minimal dopamine release when they drink might find the sedative effects of alcohol especially pronounced."

"There are very few neurobiological 'markers' that predict risk for later drug or alcohol abuse, and the fact that these researchers were able to identify such a marker is significant," said Robinson. "The response variation found is important because it suggests that individual differences in how the DA system is 'tuned,' so to speak, may determine not only the response to alcohol but the propensity for later problems with its use."

"As researchers," said Leyton, "we find accumulating evidence that there are multiple pathways to alcoholism, each associated with a distinct set of personality traits and neurobiological features. These individual differences likely influence a wide range of behaviors, both positive and problematic. The present study suggests that a tendency to experience a large dopamine response when drinking alcohol might contribute to one or more of these pathways, influencing propensities to impulsive reward-seeking behaviors. For people with loved ones struggling with alcoholism, the present study helps us answer the question: 'How did they develop this problem?' And understanding the causes of addictions is an important step toward developing treatments and preventing the disorder in others."

While Robinson observed that researchers are still a long way from being able to use the kind of neurobiological marker identified in this study to make strong predictions about individuals, he also noted the importance of studies that increase our knowledge of how drugs of abuse can have quite different effects in different individuals.

"Everyone's brain is different and different brains are influenced in quite different ways by m
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Contact: Marco Leyton, Ph.D.
marco.leyton@mcgill.ca
514-398-5804
McGill University

Terry E. Robinson, Ph.D.
ter@umich.edu
734-358-8055
The University of Michigan

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research


Source:Eurekalert

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