AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 1, 2020

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In Mice, Alcohol Dependence Results in Brain-Wide Remodeling of Functional Architecture

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Employing advanced technologies that allow whole brain imaging at single-cell resolution, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that in an alcohol-dependent mouse model, the rodent brain’s functional architecture is substantially remodeled. But when deprived of alcohol, the mice displayed increased coordinated brain activity and reduced modularity compared to nondrinker or casual drinker mice.

The findings also identified several previously unsuspected regions of the brain relevant to alcohol consumption, providing new research targets for better understanding and treatment of alcohol dependence in humans.

“The neuroscience of addiction has made tremendous progress, but the focus has always been on a limited number of brain circuits and neurotransmitters, primarily dopaminergic neurons, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex,” said senior author Olivier George, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

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