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Brain imaging and genetic studies link thinking patterns to addiction
Date:12/25/2007

would be worth in a month and then compare it to $20 and decide whether it would be worth the wait.

The parietal cortex and the dorsal prefrontal cortex were much more active in people unwilling to wait. This could mean, Boettiger said, that the area is working less efficiently in those people.

The researchers also focused on a variant of a gene called COMT. The mutation is associated with lower dopamine levels, and the study showed that people with two copies of this allele (resulting in the lowest dopamine levels) had significantly higher frontal and parietal activity and chose now over later significantly more often.

We have a lot to learn, Boettiger said. But the data takes a significant step toward being able to identify subtypes of alcoholics, which could help tailor treatments, and may provide earlier intervention for people who are at risk for developing addictions.

The bigger picture, she added, is that her study provides more evidence that addiction is a disease, something even some of her peers dont yet believe.

Its not unlike chronic diseases, such as diabetes, she said. There are underlying genetic and other biological factors, but the disease is triggered by the choices people make.

It wasnt that long ago that we believed schizophrenia was caused by bad mothers and depression wasnt a disease. Hopefully, in 10 years, well look back and it will seem silly that we didnt think addiction was a disease, too.


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Contact: Wallace Ravven
wravven@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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