Scientists have found that liquor blocks the erasure of traumatic memories in lab mice.
The experts put mice to the test by introducing them to hard liquor. The thing that was noteworthy was their ability to forget traumatic and fearful memories such as those related to PTSD.
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Apparently, alcohol consumption may make their erasure rate less efficient. Alcohol has the effect of strengthening the memories related to fearful events in mice. It is a moot point whether it has a similar result in human beings.
As for the researchers, they managed to pinpoint the exact molecular mechanism responsible for all this. The fear relapse was due to alcohol imbibing. The researchers also used a medicinal agent known as perampanel that is normally employed to treat epileptic seizures.
The big question is whether the alcohol-induced fear relapses count in humans as well besides mice. This is a big “if” indeed. This research will come in handy in the identification of how traumas form in the first place. Also novel therapies for PTSD will be created in the future thanks to the study.
The researchers have come up with conclusive evidence regarding how drinking someone under the table will sabotage any efforts at therapeutically handling fearful memories stored up in the human brain.
Such self-medication ought to be given a wide berth. It is said that 60% to 80% of people with PTSD drink alcohol to excess on a regular basis. They thus make life a living hell for themselves.
To experiment with mice regarding this, the researchers placed mice in an electrified grid and played six tones paired with an electric shock. This is the standard fear training associated with PTSD.
The following day, the mice were divided into two groups and one imbibed water while the other one got a drinking alcohol mixture to imbibe. The mice were placed in a different box and played the same tones in order to recall the experience of the shocks.
Then dissociation methods were used by the researchers as well. Both groups of mice showed less of a fear response. Then they were moved back to their original boxes and their responses were noted down.
Those which had imbibed alcohol froze more than 50% of the time. Those which had imbibed water froze less than 40% of the time. Thus there is a clear cut difference between the two. The culprit was none other than alcohol.
Alcohol seemed to have a marked impact on the fear relapse rate in mice. Fear responses need the receptor glutamate in the brain. Later on samples of brain tissue from both groups of mice were examined under the microscope.
The alcoholic mice showed more receptors for glutamate in their brain tissues. Of course, people with PTSD are far more complex than lab mice. Yet this is a useful beginning in the right direction.
The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.