Beer Flavor Provokes Striatal Dopamine Release

(c) Subjects rated the desire for beer, and the number of beers wanted.

Beer Flavor Provokes Striatal Dopamine Release in Male Drinkers: Mediation by Family History of Alcoholism
Neuropsychopharmacology (15 April 2013)
Brandon G Oberlin, et al.

Striatal dopamine (DA) is increased by virtually all drugs of abuse, including alcohol.
However, drug-associated cues are also known to provoke striatal DA transmission– a phenomenon linked to the motivated behaviors associated with addiction.

To our knowledge, no one has tested if alcohol’s classically conditioned flavor cues, in the absence of a significant pharmacologic effect, are capable of eliciting striatal DA release in humans.
Employing positron emission tomography (PET), we hypothesized that beer’s flavor alone can reduce the binding potential (BP) of [11C]raclopride (RAC; a reflection of striatal DA release) in the ventral striatum, relative to an appetitive flavor control.
Forty-nine men, ranging from social to heavy drinking, mean age 25, with a varied family history of alcoholism underwent two [11C]RAC PET scans: one while tasting beer, and one while tasting Gatorade.
Relative to the control flavor of Gatorade, beer flavor significantly increased self-reported desire to drink, and reduced [11C]RAC BP, indicating that the alcohol-associated flavor cues induced DA release.
BP reductions were strongest in subjects with first-degree alcoholic relatives.

These results demonstrate that alcohol-conditioned flavor cues can provoke ventral striatal DA release, absent significant pharmacologic effects, and that the response is strongest in subjects with a greater genetic risk for alcoholism.
Striatal DA responses to salient alcohol cues may thus be an inherited risk factor for alcoholism.

Optimal sleep time is 7 – 8 hours

Online games offer trove of brain data
21 June 2013

Study of 35 million users of brain-training software finds alcohol and sleep linked to cognitive performance.

brain-training games

online ‘brain-training’ tools

The study, published this week in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, analysed user data from Lumosity, a collection of web-based games made by Lumos Labs, based in San Francisco, California.

The optimal sleep time was seven hours, with performance worsening for every hour of sleep lost or added.

‘crystallized knowledge’ (such as vocabulary)

fluid intelligence’ (such as the ability to memorize new sets of information)

the sample in this study is also biased: the users of brain-training tools are younger (compared to the typical dementia patients), most of them live in the United States or Europe and, most importantly, they are likely to already be interested in cognitive-training tasks.

brain-training techniques

factors that influence cognition

Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep every night, says Harvard Medical School’s Charles Czeisler, who is chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation.
Any less than that (if it happens regularly) is a “sleep deficiency,”

more on fluid thinking:
This is flexible, fluid thinking — children exploring an unlikely hypothesis.
Exploratory learning comes naturally to young children, says Gopnik.
Adults, on the other hand, jump on the first, most obvious solution and doggedly stick to it, even if it’s not working.
That’s inflexible, narrow thinking. “We think the moral of the study is that maybe children are better at solving problems when the solution is an unexpected one,” says Gopnik.

And that flexibility may disappear earlier than we think.
Gopnik’s lab has also compared toddlers and kindergartners


Dreams and Reality
Why Sleep Matters
October 29, 2015

Five Tips for Women Who Have Trouble Sleeping
By Jill Suttie
August 2019