Wednesday , August 17 2022

Greater amount of gray matter may predispose you to alcoholism


Scientists have found a significant correlation between the development of alcohol dependence at the age of 19 and the increase in gray matter volume in two areas of the brain.

The research is part of the IMAGEN project, which aims to create a relationship between brain structure and mental disorders.
Simone Kühn et al. / eLife, 2019

The largest amount of gray matter in certain parts of the brain, including the caudal nucleus and the left brain, During adolescence, it is associated with an increased risk of developing alcoholism over the next five yearsThis relationship was discovered by a group of European scientists who conducted a long-term study of the relationship between the anatomical characteristics of the brain in the course of its development and the subsequent emergence of bad habits.

According to an article published in eLifeestablished characteristics may be essential to determine the risk of developing alcoholism long before the dependence occurs.

How addictive adolescence occurs

In people with different dependencies, biochemical and anatomical dysfunctions of brain structures related to the brain wage system play an important role. In particular, when the synthesis of the chemical messenger called dopamine works poorly or the orbitofrontal cortex has developmental anomalies, the risk is visibly increased. Like most other important parts of the brain, the reward system is actively formed during adolescence. As a result In this period, there is a greater risk of several addictions, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.

It is assumed that by observing the development of the brain at that age, doctors can predict the subsequent occurrence of addictions. Scientists, led by Simon Kueon of Max Planck's Society, analyzed data on 1,814 participants in the IMAGEN project at the Royal College of London, which explores the factors that affect brain development in adolescents.

At age 14 and 19, participants underwent MRI on the brain and three times during the study period completed a questionnaire including questions about alcohol consumption and dependence on beverages.

What parts of the brain can turn on the alarm?

By studying the collected data, scientists have found a significant correlation between the development of alcohol dependence at age 19 and the increase in gray matter in two brain regions, the tail nucleus and the left brain. The caudate nucleus and the cerebellum are involved in the synthesis and diffusion of dopamine. While the causative nucleus participates in the reward system and belongs to the structures in which dopamine is synthesized, the small brain receives signals from dopaminergic neurons that are responsible for regulating the motor function of our organism.

During the process of human development, the amount of gray matter in the brain decreases, indicating that its structure and functioning are stable. But a larger volume of gray matter in the areas responsible for dopamine diffusion may show its "immaturity" and contribute to the early formation of addictions. Although the mechanism of open relationship is still not understood, the correlation between gray volume and alcohol abuse can be an important factor in early diagnosis and prevention of alcoholism.

IMAGEN is a project that has already given us a lot to learn about adolescence. For example, in 2018, scientists from this research group published an article the relationship between brain structure and mental disorders. In particular, they revealed that harassment increases the risk of developing symptoms of depression by altering the structure of the brain. A study of 682 adolescents shows that increasing school bullying, which subsequently leads to depression or anxiety disorder, is also associated with a decrease in the volume of the putamen responsible for the production of dopamine in the brain.

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