Scientists find a brainwave for alcoholism
Geneticists working at Texas Biomedical Research Institute have identified an ‘echo’ of a gene in the brain that disposes people to alcoholism.
Geneticists Laura Almasy and Mark Zlojutro and a nationwide collaborative team studied the brain waves of hundreds of subjects asked to perform certain tasks, and noted patterns that were common to those at risk of dependence on alcohol.
“An important point,” said Almasy, “is that they’ve also been shown to be different in the children of alcoholics. These differences in brain activity are not a consequence of someone’s drinking. They’re there beforehand.”
A genome-wide scan to locate genes associated with those brain wave patterns led the team to a variant of the serotonin receptor gene named HTR7. Antidepressant drugs work by regulating serotonin, which affects mood and sleep. In the case of alcoholics, however, serotonin is altered. And some recent studies have linked alcoholism to genes involved in transporting serotonin through the brain.
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