News / Articles
Simultaneously assessing the brain energy patterns and the neuronal activity in the brain makes it easier to understand how alcohol affects the brain, established a recent study carried out by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This novel approach for depicting brain energy patterns can be quite resourceful when studying other neuropsychiatric ailments, said the researchers.
According to Dr. George F. Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the human brain utilizes a lot of energy compared to the other organs of the body. Therefore, this connection between brain activity and its energy utilization is a significant indicator of an individual’s brain health. The study, funded by the NIAAA, figured out a new way of distinguishing how the activity taking place in the brain is linked to the way it consumes glucose. This can be helpful in comprehending how the human brain utilizes energy when an individual is sick or in a healthy state.
Exposure to alcohol affects cost and power of brain regions
The research was headed by Dr. Nora D. Volkow and Dr. Ehsan Shokri Kojori of the NIAAA Laboratory of Neuroimaging. Dr. Volkow said that the study highlighted the importance of energetics for the normal functioning of the brain and how it can get disrupted when an individual consumes alcohol excessively. To derive new methods, the researchers combined brain imaging techniques to measure the level of glucose metabolism and neuronal activity in the brain.
Dr. Kojori said that they carried out this measurement by observing till what point the various regions of the brain were active and utilized energy. They also measured the cost of these various brain regions by observing till what degree their energy utilization exceeded their fundamental activity. Varied regions of the brain had different cost and power. The researchers analyzed the impact of alcohol on these new methods by assessing a group of participants that included both heavy and light drinkers. After their assessment, they found that both acute and chronic exposure to alcohol impacted the cost and power of the various regions of the brain.
Other observations made during research
On further analysis, the researchers observed that in the case of heavy drinkers, there was less local power in the thalamus and the frontal cortex, an important region of the brain that impacted decision-making abilities. This decline in power was due to the toxic effects of alcohol for a longer duration of time on the brain cells.
The researchers also observed a decline in power in the visual regions of the brain during acute alcohol exposure. Simultaneously, they noticed that the visual regions of the brain had significant decline in cost of activity when an individual was heavily intoxicated.
The researchers came to the conclusion that despite a sharp decline in glucose metabolism in the case of heavy drinkers as compared to light drinkers, increased drinking activity drove the brain towards less effective energetic states. However, Dr. Kojori stated that further studies need to be conducted to examine energetic signatures of various regions of the brain in different types of neuropsychiatric ailments.
Seeking help for alcoholism
Exposure to alcohol and subsequent addiction effects the brain in adverse ways. While achieving sobriety is a significant first step towards fighting addiction, it is just the onset of an individual’s recovery from alcohol addiction. With proper professional intervention or rehab, an individual can start their journey not only towards recovery, but also stay sober for a longer duration of time and rebuild their lives.
If you or a loved one is addicted to alcohol is looking for alcohol detox centers in California, get in touch with the Hillside Mission. Call our 24X7 detox treatment helpline (866) 225-6101 or chat online with our admission counselor to seek certified advice and avail services from customized world-class alcohol detox clinics in California. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.