Breaking News
December 13, 2018 - Long-term Benefit of Steroid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis Challenged
December 13, 2018 - Adding new channels to the brain remote control
December 13, 2018 - In the Spotlight: A different side of neuroscience
December 13, 2018 - Medical Marvels: Using immunotherapy for melanoma that spread to the brain
December 13, 2018 - Puzzles do not keep dementia away finds study
December 13, 2018 - New mouse model shows potential for rapid identification of promising muscular dystrophy therapies
December 13, 2018 - Study reveals urban and rural differences in prenatal exposure to essential and toxic elements
December 13, 2018 - New collaborative partnership in quest of novel antibiotics
December 13, 2018 - Single tau molecule holds clues to help diagnose neurodegeneration in its earliest stages
December 13, 2018 - AHA Scientific Statement: Low Risk of Side Effects for Statins
December 13, 2018 - What Is Acute Flaccid Myelitis?
December 13, 2018 - How bereaved people control their thoughts without knowing it
December 13, 2018 - Health care democratization underway, according to 2nd annual Stanford Medicine Health Trends Report | News Center
December 13, 2018 - Going Beyond a Single Color
December 13, 2018 - London-based startup launches ‘thedrug.store’ aiming to clean up CBD industry
December 13, 2018 - Loss of tight junction barrier protein results in gastric cancer development
December 13, 2018 - Novel way to efficiently deliver anti-parasitic medicines
December 13, 2018 - RKI publishes new data on disease prevention and utilization of medical services
December 13, 2018 - High-tech, flexible patches sewn into clothes could help to stay warm
December 13, 2018 - Restoring Hair Growth on Scarred Skin? Mouse Study Could Show the Way
December 13, 2018 - Probiotic use may reduce antibiotic prescriptions, researchers say
December 13, 2018 - Drug repositioning strategy identifies potential new treatments for epilepsy
December 13, 2018 - Chronic rhinitis associated with hospital readmissions for asthma and COPD patients
December 13, 2018 - Food poisoning discovery could save lives
December 13, 2018 - Cloned antibodies show potential to treat, diagnose life-threatening fungal infections
December 13, 2018 - Exercise may reduce colorectal cancer risk after weight loss
December 13, 2018 - Russian scientists create hardware-information system for brain disorders treatment
December 13, 2018 - Moderate alcohol consumption linked with lower risk of hospitalization
December 13, 2018 - Nurturing Healthy Neighborhoods | NIH News in Health
December 13, 2018 - Rise in meth and opioid use during pregnancy
December 13, 2018 - Researchers gain new insights into pediatric tumors
December 13, 2018 - FSU study finds racial disparity among adolescents receiving flu vaccine
December 13, 2018 - Study investigates attitudes toward implementation of ‘sex as a biological variable’ policy
December 13, 2018 - Drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off energy supply
December 13, 2018 - Baculovirus virion completely eliminates liver-stage parasites in mouse model
December 13, 2018 - Researchers create noninvasive technology that detects when nerve cells fire
December 13, 2018 - Allen Institute for Immunology to partner with CU Anschutz to understand dynamics of human immune system
December 13, 2018 - Inability to do daily living tasks delays discharge of mental health patients
December 13, 2018 - Treating patients with hypertension induced albuminuria
December 13, 2018 - New substance could improve efficacy of established breast cancer treatments
December 13, 2018 - Scientists develop new stem cell line to study conversion of stem cells into muscle
December 13, 2018 - Re-programming the body’s energy pathway boosts kidney self-repair
December 13, 2018 - Research findings could help improve treatment of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders
December 13, 2018 - The Microbiome Movement announce Microbiotica as official industry partner
December 13, 2018 - New study reveals potential benefits of cEEG monitoring for infant ICU patients
December 13, 2018 - Whole-body imaging PET/MRI offers information to guide treatment options for prostate cancer
December 13, 2018 - International investigators fight against the negative campaign on benzodiazepines
December 13, 2018 - Targeting biochemical pathway may lead to new therapies for alleviating symptoms of anxiety disorders
December 13, 2018 - FDA Approves Tolsura (SUBA®-itraconazole capsules) for the Treatment of Certain Fungal Infections
December 13, 2018 - Are scientists studying the wrong kind of mice?
December 13, 2018 - Computer memory: A scientific team builds a virtual model of a key brain region
December 13, 2018 - Visual inspection alone is insufficient to diagnose skin cancer
December 13, 2018 - Paternal grandfather’s access to food associated with grandson’s mortality risk
December 13, 2018 - Our brain senses angry voices in a flash, study shows
December 13, 2018 - PM2.5 Exposure Linked to Asthma Rescue Medication Use
December 13, 2018 - Can’t exercise? A hot bath may help improve inflammation, metabolism, study suggests
December 13, 2018 - Can artificial intelligence help doctors with the human side of medicine?
December 13, 2018 - Virginia Tech and UC San Diego researchers team up to develop nonopioid drug for chronic pain
December 13, 2018 - NIH offers support for HIV care and prevention research in the southern United States
December 12, 2018 - Activating brain region could revive the urge to socialize among opioid addicts
December 12, 2018 - Relationship impairment appears to interfere with seeking mental health treatment in men
December 12, 2018 - Sleep, Don’t Cram, Before Finals for Better Grades
December 12, 2018 - Effective treatments for urticarial vasculitis
December 12, 2018 - Gun violence is a public health issue: One physician’s story
December 12, 2018 - The Science of Healthy Aging
December 12, 2018 - Yes to yoghurt and cheese: New improved Mediterranean diet
December 12, 2018 - Researchers uncover a number of previously unknown insecticide resistance mechanisms
December 12, 2018 - Regulating the immune system’s ‘regulator’
December 12, 2018 - In breaking bad news, the comfort of silence
December 12, 2018 - Study finds upward link between alcohol consumption and physical activity in college students
December 12, 2018 - FDA issues warning letter to Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical involved in valsartan recall
December 12, 2018 - Weight history at ages 20 and 40 could help predict patients’ future risk of heart failure
December 12, 2018 - Presence of antiphospholipid antibodies tied to first-time MI
December 12, 2018 - DNA analysis finds that stethoscopes are teaming with bacteria
December 12, 2018 - New study could help inform research on preventing falls
December 12, 2018 - Women and men with heart attack symptoms receive different care from EMS
December 12, 2018 - Disrupted biological clock can contribute to onset of diseases, USC study shows
December 12, 2018 - New publications generate controversy over the value of reducing salt consumption in populations
December 12, 2018 - New data from TAILORx trial confirms lack of chemo benefit regardless of race or ethnicity
December 12, 2018 - Specific class of biomarkers can accurately indicate the severity of cancer
Understanding the Neuroscience of Binge Drinking

Understanding the Neuroscience of Binge Drinking

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Binge drinking is never healthy, but the behavior brings the greatest risks for young adolescents. Adolescents who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become adult alcoholics than those who start to drink as older teens. And those who binge drink are more likely to suffer from memory problems that persist into adulthood.

“The brains of young teens are at a stage of development that makes them more vulnerable to being switched on to alcohol addiction,” says Neil Harrison, PhD, professor of anesthesiology and pharmacology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) who researches the effects of alcohol on the brain. “The question we’re asking is, can we find those switches in the adolescent binge drinker so that we can turn it off?”

Other researchers have looked at the neuroscience of binge drinking—by getting mice intoxicated through vapor inhalation or alcohol injection. Michael Salling, PhD, assistant professor of anesthesiology at VP&S, and his team are taking a different approach, allowing the mice to drink voluntarily.

The brains of young teens are at a stage of development that makes them more vulnerable to being switched on to alcohol addiction.

“Shortcuts are useful in getting animals to drink, but these models don’t resemble how drinking develops in humans,” Harrison says. In Salling’s approach, mice are given access to alcohol every other day during a period in their development that’s equivalent to human adolescence. “Some of the mice drink avidly and some very little—which parallels the human experience.”

The consequences of binge drinking in adolescent mice are also similar to the effects in humans. As the mice become young adults, those that drank heavily in their youth adopt drinking patterns often seen in people.

“Often the mice will drink robustly as soon as the alcohol is provided,” says Salling. “This so-called front-loading behavior is frequently present in people who later develop an alcohol use disorder.”

And just like people, binge drinking mice also suffer memory problems, as shown in Harrison and Salling’s most recent study, published July 4 in the Journal of Neuroscience. The study is the first to show that voluntary alcohol consumption in adolescent mice leads to a deficit in very short-term memory known as “working memory”—and it’s giving the researchers a window into what binge drinking does to the teenage brain.

A pyramidal neuron from the prefrontal cortex of a mouse brain. (Neil Harrison and Michael Salling, Columbia University Irving Medical Center)

The most striking changes the researchers saw appeared in neurons within the mouse equivalent of the human prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is involved in planning actions by suppressing inappropriate responses and maintaining working memory and attention. The area does not completely mature in people until their 20s.

In the binge drinking mice, certain PFC neurons were less able to generate persistent activity, and these changes appear to impair working memory. This finding is consistent with imaging studies that show decreased resting activity in the PFC of alcoholics and binge drinkers.

“These findings may help explain why human adolescent binge drinkers have memory problems,” Salling says, “but they also suggest that there are ways to intervene.”

Harrison and Salling found that binge drinking altered neuron excitability by interfering with channels that allow ions to flow into the neurons.

“Targeting these channels may restore normal patterns of activity in the PFC and improve working memory,” says Harrison, who adds that neurobiological studies such as this are needed to develop new treatments for alcohol use disorders.

“Most adults with alcohol use disorders begin their excessive drinking as teenagers. If we hope to find ways to prevent or treat these disorders, it’s critical that we understand not only the social and environmental factors that contribute to early binge drinking but also the changes that occur in the brain that lead to alcohol addiction.”

 

The paper is titled “Alcohol consumption during adolescence in a mouse model of binge drinking alters the intrinsic excitability and function of the prefrontal cortex through a reduction in the hyperpolarization-activated cation current.” The other contributors are Mary Jane Skelly, Elizabeth Avegno, Samantha Regan, Tamara Zeric, and Elcoma Nichols (all at Columbia University Irving Medical Center).

 

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (5F32AA022028-02and 5R01AA023531-04).

 

The authors declare no financial or other conflicts of interest.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles