Neural Roots and Origins of Alcoholism Identified

From University of Warwick: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) at the front of the brain senses an unpleasant or emergency situation, and then sends this information to the dorsal periaqueductal gray (dPAG) at the brain’s core, the latter area processing whether we need to escape the situation.

A person is at greater risk of developing alcohol use disorders when this information pathway is imbalanced in the following two ways:

Alcohol inhibits the dPAG (the area of the brain that processes adverse situations), so that the brain cannot respond to negative signals, or the need to escape from danger — leading a person to only feel the benefits of drinking alcohol, and not its harmful side effects. This is a possible cause of compulsive drinking.

A person with alcohol addiction will also generally have an over-excited dPAG, making them feel that they are in an adverse or unpleasant situation they wish to escape, and they will urgently turn to alcohol to do so. This is the cause of impulsive drinking.

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