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  (Source: blogspot.com)
Researchers find that repeated alcohol use increases synaptic plasticity of the brain

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have found that alcohol allows specific parts of the brain to remember better.

Hitoshi Morikawa, study leader and a neurobiologist at the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin, and a team of UT Austin researchers, have discovered that ethanol exposure increases synaptic plasticity in the brain.

Drinking alcohol is usually not tied positively to learning and memory, but this study found that repeated ethanol consumption increases synaptic plasticity in the brain, which, according to Morikawa, is evidence that alcohol and drug addiction is a memory and learning disorder.  

"Usually, when we talk about learning and memory, we're talking about conscious memory," said Morikawa. "Alcohol diminishes our ability to hold on to pieces of information like your colleague's name, or the definition of a word, or where you parked your car this morning. But our subconscious is learning and remembering too, and alcohol may actually increase our capacity to learn, or 'conditionability' at that level."

According to Morikawa, drinking alcohol or using drugs teaches our subconscious to consume more, but at the same time, we become more receptive to subconscious memory making with people, music, food, etc. Morikawa also noted that alcoholics aren't addicted to the pleasure alcohol gives them, but rather a combination of behavioral, physiological and environmental cues that are augmented when alcohol provokes the release of dopamine in the brain.

As far as this study goes, alcohol takes over the dopaminergic system, and tells our brain that what we're doing is "rewarding" and worthy of repeating. We also learn that going to the bar or talking with friends is rewarding. 

"People commonly think of dopamine as a happy transmitter or a pleasure transmitter, but more accurately it's a learning transmitter," said Morikawa. "It strengthens those synapses that are active when dopamine is released."

The more a person does while drinking, the more dopamine is released. This leads to the increased likelihood that these synapses are repeated. 

With this knowledge, Morikawa would like to create anti-addiction drugs that weaken these synapses rather than strengthen them, like alcohol and drugs do. This would completely erase the addiction from a person's subconscious memory.

"We're talking about de-wiring things," said Morikawa. "It's kind of scary because it has the potential to be a mind controlling substance. Our goal, though, is to reverse the mind controlling aspects of addictive drugs."

This study was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.



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Agree with this
By Lord 666 on 4/13/2011 12:53:02 PM , Rating: 2
I've had three concussions and have always felt improvement with alcohol and broad-spec antibiotics.

Science proved the first, just waiting for the second




RE: Agree with this
By geddarkstorm on 4/13/2011 2:11:46 PM , Rating: 2
No, alcohol does not improve your brain, and that's not what this study is showing in any way. But, it does change your perception of your performance, as you can no longer critically look at it, so you "feel" improved. Moreover, what this study and many others have shown is that the reward circuits are some of the very last parts of the brain to shut down during alcohol consumption.

So as some of your critical thinking centers, which slow your cognitive stream of thought by double checking everything, shut down, your subconscious steam can flow far more easily and it feels like you've improved. Sometimes this means that a person is holding oneself back, and shutting down those brain centers (or slowing them down behind the rest rather), breaks away that self imposed barrier and allows them to be more productive. Of course, until they get too much alcohol.

Sorry to be a buzz kill, but alcohol is a poison, no ifs ands or but. But, it still has its uses ;3


RE: Agree with this
By ClownPuncher on 4/13/2011 3:14:07 PM , Rating: 5
Everything is a poison in excess


RE: Agree with this
By TSS on 4/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: Agree with this
By Integral9 on 4/14/2011 9:23:49 AM , Rating: 2
YOU CAN DO IT!


RE: Agree with this
By FITCamaro on 4/14/2011 9:54:26 AM , Rating: 2
YOU CAN DO IT ALL.....NIGHT....LONG!!!


RE: Agree with this
By ClownPuncher on 4/14/2011 3:29:32 PM , Rating: 1
Yet, you could inject pure THC solution and die. It would still take a lot, but... poison.


RE: Agree with this
By mindless1 on 4/18/2011 11:03:43 AM , Rating: 2
False. Poison is a word with a specific meaning, NOT just some vague claim about "what could kill you".

Too much fire can kill you, is fire "poison"? Too much water can too, but water is NOT poison. Inject pure air in your veins and you can die too, is air poison?

No, if one claims everything is poison it effectively defeats the purpose of the word existing, and the same for any other word. Some thing it is deep thinking, but it is mere folly to claim shades of gray where there aren't many.


RE: Agree with this
By sleepeeg3 on 4/13/2011 9:14:25 PM , Rating: 2
Very true. ScienceDaily's headline on this was misleading and sensationalist:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/11041...

What the researchers are saying is that alcohol increases semantic memory, but decreases episodic memory. You forget the important things, but remember a generalized version of the events. If the brain changes based on this, it's possible repeated exposure could be trading off your ability to remember episodic events, like the phone number of that girl you slept with last night...


RE: Agree with this
By iVTec on 4/14/2011 7:29:05 AM , Rating: 3
If you already slept with her, why would you want her phone number?


RE: Agree with this
By Skywalker123 on 4/14/2011 3:43:51 PM , Rating: 2
If alcohol is a "poison" then why do light drinkers live longer than teetotalers?


What?
By piroroadkill on 4/13/2011 10:51:44 AM , Rating: 2
Oh no, it can have such terrible effects as:

"We also learn that going to the bar or talking with friends is rewarding."

OH NO! Not.. talking with friends, or going out!! That sounds awful

whut




RE: What?
By HrilL on 4/13/2011 12:34:26 PM , Rating: 5
How else are you supposed to find sluts to take advantage of?


Last night?
By The Raven on 4/13/2011 11:35:03 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have found that alcohol allows specific parts of the brain to remember better.

I guess just not the part that remembers last night! <rimshot>




RE: Last night?
By AnnihilatorX on 4/13/2011 12:42:55 PM , Rating: 1
definitely not the part about the motel


RE: Last night?
By fic2 on 4/13/2011 8:06:27 PM , Rating: 2
I learned what my capacity for alcohol is. Does that count?


Ballmer Peak
By fleshconsumed on 4/13/2011 11:38:33 AM , Rating: 2
http://xkcd.com/323/

First thing I thought when I read the headline :D

However, with that out of the way, I think the article headline is a little misleading.




RE: Ballmer Peak
By geddarkstorm on 4/13/2011 1:40:18 PM , Rating: 2
The title is very misleading. What it allows a person to "learn better" is other addicting behaviors, subconsciously, by linking the to the same addictive pathway that the alcohol has currently activated.

This is, sufficient to say, not a good thing, at all. But it does give us insight into why one addiction easily leads to many more, and how the process of addiction propagates and works.


On a side note...
By nstott on 4/13/2011 12:28:04 PM , Rating: 4
The researchers performing this study were drunk off their a$$e$.




So the Buffalo Theory is real!
By Helbore on 4/13/2011 11:59:40 AM , Rating: 3
I don't believe it, Cliff was actually right about something!




I ain't gettin drunk..
By drewsup on 4/13/2011 12:31:46 PM , Rating: 3
I'm gettin shmarter.. Hiccup ;)




I will drink to that ...
By just4U on 4/13/2011 10:17:11 AM , Rating: 2
Yesh... I think I will.
Cheers!




Ballmer
By Evadman on 4/13/2011 11:37:29 AM , Rating: 2
It's the Ballmer Peak at work.




drinking makes you smarter
By Mogounus on 4/13/2011 12:23:37 PM , Rating: 2
I've been claiming this for some time...

<joke>

The cells in a brain are like a herd of cattle. The herd can only go as fast as it's slowest individual. Alcohol kills off the slowest brain cells. The brain as a whole, having lost it's slowest cells, can then go faster. Q.E.D

</joke>




no reward for you
By RivuxGamma on 4/13/2011 12:52:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
With this knowledge, Morikawa would like to create anti-addiction drugs that weaken these synapses rather than strengthen them, like alcohol and drugs do.


Wouldn't that make people who take it kinda like the pirates in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie? Only without the looking like a corpse thing.




not a problem...
By dgingeri on 4/13/2011 2:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Usually, when we talk about learning and memory, we're talking about conscious memory," said Morikawa. "Alcohol diminishes our ability to hold on to pieces of information like your colleague's name, or the definition of a word, or where you parked your car this morning. But our subconscious is learning and remembering too, and alcohol may actually increase our capacity to learn, or 'conditionability' at that level."


I have problems with these things without alcohol, along with the coordination problems most people have with alcohol. I've had people comment "If I didn't know you better, I'd think you were drunk all the time." So, I don't really have much to lose on that side of things. Maybe that's why I learn stuff so quickly and easily. I must have something in my brain that mimics these effects of alcohol.




Ah, But...
By mmatis on 4/13/2011 6:22:17 PM , Rating: 2
we can't have our college-age students drinking alcohol now, can we?




Wha?!?!!?
By RedemptionAD on 4/13/2011 9:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"We're talking about de-wiring things," said Morikawa. "It's kind of scary because it has the potential to be a mind controlling substance. Our goal, though, is to reverse the mind controlling aspects of addictive drugs."
The anti addictive drug they are working on is a mind control substance? "Sir, I have good news, you are no longer addicted to cigarettes. And some bad news, We now control everything you do."




Retrograde societies
By gsellis on 4/13/2011 9:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
I remember a discussion from the 70's and heck if I could ever source it. But the discussion was around the only known retrograde societies were also those that did not use alcohol. And it is not your obvious thought, it was a Pacific island society.




Three Degrees
By rburnham on 4/15/2011 3:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
That explains why I did so well in college.




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