The men, who were given the option of a free taxi home if they drank three or more bottles of beer or wine, were randomly assigned to watch American Pie with and without alcohol ads, or characters consuming alcohol, or 40 Days and 40 Nights, again with and without the alcohol content.
Those who watched the segments that included alcohol drank an average of three 200-milligram bottles of alcohol. Those watching the "neutral" segments drank half that amount.
The findings, which need to be confirmed in other groups of people and in larger studies, may argue for a sort of "rating" system regarding alcohol in movies, the authors stated.
Dr. Kathryn J. Kotrla, chairwoman of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, said the new study was "reminiscent of the imaging studies, for example, looking at cocaine addiction."
"It would be fascinating to follow the study up with neuroimaging studies with alcoholics ... to see if the same reward pathways are triggered in the brain," she said. "Why that's so important is that it bypasses the debate, is alcoholism a failure of will or a disease? It puts [the debate] smack dab in the neuroscience arena, which, in fact, is where it needs to be."
To learn more about alcohol abuse, visit the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
SOURCES: Jeffrey T. Parsons, Ph.D., professor and chair of psychology, Hunter College, New York City; Kathryn J. Kotrla, M.D., chairwoman and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and associate dean, Health Science Center, Round Rock; March 4, 2009, Alcohol and Alcoholism, online
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