Already small amounts of alcohol impair memory

Already small amounts of alcohol impair memory

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Effects of alcohol on memory?

The consumption of alcohol can have negative consequences for the body and mind. Researchers have now found that even small amounts of alcohol affect memory for several hours and also have a strong impact on our reward center in the brain.

In their current study, Brown University scientists found that a single alcoholic drink can worsen memory for hours. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Neuron".

Research has been done on fruit flies

A single molecular change could explain why just a few glasses of wine affect memory for several days and why alcoholics relapse after decades of abstinence, the scientists claim. In their research, the experts used fruit flies to understand how alcohol affects the brain. In doing so, they discovered a hitherto unknown way in which alcohol changes certain regions in our brain that are associated with positive experiences and cravings.

Alcohol disturbs the reward center

While flies have far fewer neurons than humans, they still share some key features. One of the areas disturbed by alcohol is the key to how animals store or process rewarding experiences. This could help explain why addicts ignore and accept the harm of alcohol. Drugs such as alcohol, opiates, cocaine and methamphetamine have strong side effects. For example, alcohol often causes nausea and a hangover the next morning. So why do people still drink alcohol and accept the effects of intoxication? The scientists asked.

Notch-Weg played an important role

At the molecular level, doctors tried to understand the impact that drugs and alcohol have on memory and our memories and why they sometimes cause a real craving. By studying flies that were used to alcohol, the researchers were able to monitor the nerve pathways and genetic signals that lit up when they developed a desire. A key system was a group of cellular mechanisms that play a critical role in the development of the brain and nervous system of many living things (including fruit flies and humans) - known as the so-called Notch path. In the cell, this works like a chain of dominoes, starting with an initial Notch receptor, which, when activated, triggers a chain of other cellular processes, the experts explain.

Dopamine receptor was affected

In alcohol-addicted flies, the experts found that exposure to alcohol led to changes in the Notch cascade. One change affected the effect of a large receptor molecule on nerve cells, which helps to detect dopamine. This dopamine receptor is known to be involved in coding whether a memory is saved as pleasing or aversive, the study's authors say.

How do some glasses of wine affect the metabolic pathway?

If the process is similar in humans, a glass of wine is enough to activate the metabolic pathway. This process then normalizes again within an hour. After three glasses, each with an hour's break between consumption, the path does not normalize even after 24 hours. The researchers think that this persistence is likely to alter gene expression in memory circuits. This most likely applies to other forms of addiction if the results can be transferred to humans.

Alcohol can control memory mechanisms

This study indicates that drug addiction and alcohol addiction persist because memory mechanisms have been influenced and quasi adopted and controlled by alcohol and drugs. The study not only provides a model for understanding the persistence of drug addiction, it also identifies potential pharmacological targets for the treatment of addiction. (as)

Author and source information

Video: How to become a memory master. Idriz Zogaj. TEDxGoteborg (November 2022).