Researchers at the University at Buffalo have found a way to change alcohol drinking behavior in rodents, using the emerging technique of optogenetics, which uses light to stimulate neurons.
Their work could lead to powerful new ways to treat alcoholism, other addictions, and neurological and mental illnesses; it also helps explain the underlying neurochemical basis of drug addiction.
The findings, published in November inFrontiers in Neuroscience, are the first to demonstrate a causal relationship between the release of dopamine in the brain and drinking behaviors of animals. Research like this, which makes it possible to map the neuronal circuits responsible for specific behaviors, is a major focus of President Obama’s Brain Research for Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative, known as BRAIN.
In the experiments, rats were trained to drink alcohol in a way that mimics human binge-drinking behavior.
Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education