Alcohol Changes The Mechanism Of Memory Formation At The Molecular Level

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Alcohol Changes The Mechanism Of Memory Formation At The Molecular Level
Alcohol Changes The Mechanism Of Memory Formation At The Molecular Level

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Alcohol changes the mechanism of memory formation at the molecular level

Only a few glasses of alcohol change the way our memories are formed at the molecular level. This is evidenced by a new study conducted by a group of scientists from the American University of Brown (Brown University), the results of which were published in the journal "Neuron" (Neuron).

Alcohol changes the mechanism of memory formation at the molecular level
Alcohol changes the mechanism of memory formation at the molecular level

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Only a few glasses of alcohol change the way our memories are formed at the molecular level. This is evidenced by a new study conducted by a group of scientists from the American University of Brown (Brown University), the results of which were published in the journal "Neuron" (Neuron).

American scientists decided to investigate the role of molecules and genes in the coding of memories associated with the "reward system."

The researchers' starting point was a relatively simple question: Why do people persist in using substances that have unpleasant effects on their bodies and brains? Narcotic drugs, both strong and weak (opiates, alcohol, etc.) often cause unpleasant consequences: nausea, vomiting, headaches, hangover. Why do we only remember the good feelings associated with these neurotoxins and forget the negative feelings?

Working with fruit flies that have been addicted to alcohol, the researchers investigated the roles of different genes and proteins involved in addiction and reward systems.

The first step was to identify the molecules that change when cravings for alcohol or drugs or drug withdrawal occur. This is an important aspect of the project that can help find new drug addiction treatments by reducing the fond memories of drug abuse.

The researchers found that one of the main proteins that makes flies search for alcohol is "Notch" (a family of transmembrane proteins that contain repeated extracellular sequences - the EGF and DSL domains). Notch acts first in signaling pathways that play a role in embryonic and brain development in all animals, including humans.

The researchers also found that genes for D2-like receptors (D2 is the type 2 dopamine receptor) involved in these signaling pathways are also affected by alcohol. These genes produce a protein in neurons that recognizes dopamine, a pleasurable neurotransmitter known to play a role in coding positive memories.

In the "reward pathways" investigated, the scientists found that the molecular signals did not change, and the amount of protein created remained unchanged. However, there was a slight change in the very version of the protein produced.

Karla Kaun explained the results of the study using the following analogy with humans:

“One glass of wine is enough to activate this pathway, but it returns to normal within an hour. After three glasses with an hour break in between, it does not return to normal within 24 hours. We believe that this kind of persistence is likely to alter gene expression in memory circuits,”says Karla Kaun.

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