University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientists have reported - for the first time - a burst in new brain cell development during abstinence from chronic alcohol consumption.
The UNC findings, from research at UNCs Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, were based on an animal model of chronic alcohol dependence, in which adult rats were given alcohol over four days in amounts that produced alcohol dependency. The study is in the Nov. 3 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
In 2002, Dr. Fulton T. Crews, Bowles Center director, and Bowles Center research associate Dr. Kim Nixon were the first to report that alcohol, during intoxication, has a detrimental effect on the formation of new neurons in the adult rat hippocampus. This brain region is important for learning and memory - in animals and humans - and is linked to psychiatric disorders, particularly depression. "When used in excess, alcohol damages brain structure and function. Alcoholics have impairments in the ability to reason, plan or remember," said Crews, also professor of pharmacology and psychiatry in UNCs School of Medicine. "A variety of psychological tests show alcoholics have a difficulty in ability to understand negative consequences."
L.H. Lang | EurekAlert!
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