Cerebellum (Latin for “little brain”) in red. Source: Life Science Databases/Wikimedia Commons A study published today offers new clues that help explain why some people are more inclined to be teetotalers—while others seem hardwired for heavy drinking. These groundbreaking findings show that alcohol doesn’t interact the same way in every brain, which illuminates the neurobiology behind different drinking habits. David Rossi , P.h.D., a professor of integrative physiology and neuroscience at Washington State University, and colleagues have pinpointed a specific cellular mechanism in the cerebellum (Latin for "little brain") that strongly influences if an animal is likely to consume copious amounts of alcohol, or to drink in moderation. The August 2016 study, " Pharmacologically Counteracting a Phenotypic Difference in Cerebellar GABAA Receptor Response to Alcohol Prevents Excessive Alcohol Consumption in a High Alcohol-Consuming Rodent Genotype ," appears in the Journal of Neuroscience . The mechanism reported by Rossi et al. appears to be like an on/off switch that drives patterns of alcohol consumption based on the activity of minuscule cerebellar neurons called granule cells. Attached to every granule cell are proteins called GABAA receptors which act like traffic cops directing electrical signals throughout the nervous system. ( Cerebellar is the… Read full this story
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