People with alcoholic parents have impaired brain transition ability

February 18, 2020

WASHINGTON D.C: A recent study has demonstrated that the brains of individuals whose parents suffered from alcohol use issues are unable to switch between active and resting states. This abnormality...

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WASHINGTON D.C: A recent study has demonstrated that the brains of individuals whose parents suffered from alcohol use issues are unable to switch between active and resting states. This abnormality manifests itself in the affected people regardless of their own drinking habits, foreign media reported.

The study, conducted by researchers at Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Medicine, discovered that the brain reconfigures itself between completing a mentally demanding task and resting.

But for the brain of someone with a family history of an alcohol use disorder, this reconfiguration doesn't happen.

While the missing transition doesn't seem to affect how well a person performs the mentally demanding task itself, it might be related to larger-scale brain functions that give rise to behaviours associated with addiction.

In particular, study subjects without this brain process demonstrated greater impatience in waiting for rewards, a behaviour associated with addiction. Findings are published in the journal NeuroImage. The work was led by Enrico Amico, a former Purdue postdoctoral researcher who is now a researcher at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"The moment you close a programme, a computer has to remove it from memory, reorganise the cache and maybe clear out some temporary files. This helps the computer to prepare for the next task," said Joaquin Goni.

"In a similar way, we've found that this reconfiguration process in the human brain is associated with finishing a task and getting ready for what's next."

Past research has shown that a family history of alcoholism affects a person's brain anatomy and physiology, but most studies have looked at this effect only in separate active and quiet resting states rather than the transition between them.

"A lot of what brains do is switch between different tasks and states. We suspected that this task-switching might be somewhat lower in people with a family history of alcoholism," said David Kareken, a professor of neurology.



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