It was rightly said that alcohol consumption is injurious to health. The saying has yet again been proved by a new study. The study says, alcohol addiction and abstinence both may lead to a restructuring of the brain or cause changes in its functioning. As per an ANI report, the study identified several regions of a human brain, which were previously unrecognised, as new research targets for better understanding and treatment of alcohol dependence in us. The research also stated that the findings further undermine the idea of addiction to alcohol as a psychological condition or consequence of lifestyle. The findings were published in online journal PNAS.

Senior author Olivier George, associate professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said, “The neuroscience of addiction has made tremendous progress, but the focus has always been on a limited number of brain circuits and neurotransmitters, primarily dopaminergic neurons, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.”

“Research groups have been fighting for years about whether ‘their’ brain circuit is the key to addiction. Our results confirm these regions are important, but the fact that we see such a massive remodelling of the functional brain architecture was a real shock,” George added.

He also said that the brain-wide remodelling of the functional architecture is not observed in an animal that drinks recreationally. It is only observed in animals with a history of alcohol dependence. Such a condition may lead to several brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury and seizure disorders.

Reduced modularity, as per George, likely interferes with “normal neuronal activity and information processing and contributes to cognitive impairment, emotional distress and intense craving observed in mice during abstinence from alcohol.” However, the researcher said it was not clear if the reduced modularity was permanent. The researchers stressed that they did not test longer duration of abstinence.

Brain modularity is the theory according to which there are functionally specialised regions in the brain responsible for different, specific cognitive processes. For example, the frontal lobes of the human brain are involved in executive functions, such as reasoning and planning, while the fusiform face area located in the lower rear of the brain is involved in recognising faces.

So, for all the alcohol-lovers out there, think before you drink, because controlling your addiction is all in your mind.

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