Prenatal alcohol exposure changes mouse brain circuitry involved in decision making

Prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities in the United States. It can lead to learning, memory, and impulsivity problems in both children and adults. In a new study conducted with mice, NIAAA scientists report that specific changes in a brain circuit involved in learning and decision making could … Read more

NIH-funded rodent study finds molecular link between adolescent alcohol use and adult anxiety

Wine glass and beer bottle over brain graphic

New preclinical research in rats has identified a link between adolescent alcohol exposure and specific molecular changes in the brain that contribute to increased anxiety in adulthood. A large body of evidence demonstrates a strong relationship between alcohol and anxiety problems in humans. “These findings provide insight into the mechanisms through which alcohol-induced brain changes … Read more

NIH study of brain energy patterns provides new insights into alcohol effects

Image of brain scans

Assessing the patterns of energy use and neuronal activity simultaneously in the human brain improves our understanding of how alcohol affects the brain, according to new research by scientists at the National Institutes of Health. The new approach for characterizing brain energetic patterns could also be useful for studying other neuropsychiatric diseases. A report of … Read more

Researchers identify key brain circuits for reward-seeking and avoidance behavior

microscopy image of a rodent brain cross-section; pathways in the extended amygdala related to reward-seeking and aversion are labeled in fluorescent green

Previously unrecognized pathways in mice have relevance for mental health and addiction research Researchers have identified connections between neurons in brain systems associated with reward, stress, and emotion. Conducted in mice, the new study may help untangle multiple psychiatric conditions, including alcohol use disorder, anxiety disorders, insomnia, and depression in humans. “Understanding these intricate brain … Read more

Hunger Hormone Affects Alcohol Intake

X-ray of human body

A new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) provides further evidence that a hormone produced in the stomach influences alcohol consumption in humans. As reported in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers led by Lorenzo Leggio, M.D., Ph.D., demonstrated that the hormone, called ghrelin, may be a promising target for developing … Read more