According to Inquirer.net, the journal Neuron published a study conducted by Karla Kaun, Emily Petruccelli and a team at Brown University who took it upon themselves to investigate the role of molecules and genes to help determine why people only remember good feelings associated with neurotoxins such as alcohol. First, they studied fruit flies to like alcohol. Then they worked to find out why there was no real memory of the unpleasant effects on their bodies such as those suffered by humans—nausea, vomiting, headaches, and hangovers, to name a few. One of the major discoveries in this research was that dopamine-2-like receptor genes involved in the memory pathways were affected by alcohol.
With sufficient amounts of alcohol, there was a subtle change in the version of the produced protein. These genes produce a protein on neurons that recognizes dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter known to play a part in the encoding of positive memories. Ms. Kaun explained the findings with an analogy for people: “…One glass of wine is enough to activate the pathway, but it returns to normal within an hour. After three glasses, with an hour break in between, the pathway doesn’t return to normal after 24 hours. We think this persistence is likely what is changing the gene expression in memory circuits.”
So there you have it. If a conclusion may be drawn from this study of fruit flies, people over-drink because they don’t remember the adverse after-effects of consuming too much alcohol. They just remember the good feelings. The body, however, must still rid itself of the consumed toxins, causing the unpleasant after-effects.
About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants. Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee. Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.
He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 8thedition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen). Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions. He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries.
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