Monday, December 3, 2012

Scientists believe some people have a gene that hard-wires them for binge drinking by boosting levels of a happy brain chemical triggered by alcohol

The gene - RASGRF-2 - is one of many already suggested to be linked with problem drinking. The King's College London team found animals lacking the gene had far less desire for alcohol than those with it. Brain scans of 663 teenage boys showed that those with a version of the gene had heightened dopamine responses in tests. During a task designed to make them anticipate a reward, these 14-year-old boys had more activity in a part of the brain called the ventral striatum which is known to be involved in dopamine release. When the researchers later contacted the same boys at the age of 16 and asked them about their drinking habits, they found that the boys with the culprit variation on the RASGRF-2 gene drank more frequently.

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