Can Alchoholism Be Treated By Flipping a Switch in the Brain?

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Pint of beerAlcohol addiction tears apart many lives and families, but a future solution may be as simple as flipping a switch in the brain. As reported by BioscienceTechnology.com, researchers from the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at UC San Francisco have identified and deactivated a brain pathway linked to memories that caused alcohol cravings in rats. The study, published online in the June 23rd edition of Nature Neuroscience, used rats which has become addicted to alcohol and managed to prevent them from even seeking out the alcohol, let alone drinking it.

“One of the main causes of relapse is craving, triggered by the memory by certain cues – like going into a bar, or the smell or taste of alcohol,” said lead author Segev Barak, PhD, who was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of co-senior author Dorit Ron, PhD and UCSF professor of neurology.

“We learned that when rats were exposed to the smell or taste of alcohol, there was a small window of opportunity to target the area of the brain that reconsolidates the memory of the craving for alcohol and to weaken or even erase the memory, and thus the craving” he said.

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