Do You Drink A Lot Without Getting Drunk? Chances Are You Have A Small Brain And It’s Genetic
By Monit Khanna
November 5, 2019
Research in the past has revealed that people who drink a lot see a considerable shrink in the size of their brain. However, a recent study has revealed that it also causes this shrinking of the brain to be genetic for future generations that predisposes them to consume more alcohol.
According to senior author Ryan Bogdan, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences and director of the Brain Lab at Washington University in St. Louis, “Our results suggest that associations between alcohol consumption and reduced brain volume are attributable to shared genetic factors. The study is impressive because it uses a variety of approaches and data analysis techniques to reach findings that all converge on the same conclusion.”
The study was first published in Biological Psychiatry. It is based on longitudinal and family data of three independent brain imaging studies – one compared drinking behaviours between twin and non-twin siblings, one with longitudinal research within children who were never exposed to alcohol (considered as baseline) and analysis of gene expression with the help of postmortem brain tissue.
According to David Baranger, study’s lead author, “Our study provides convergent evidence that there are genetic factors that lead to both lower grey matter volumes and increased alcohol use. These findings don’t discount the hypothesis that alcohol abuse may further reduce grey matter volumes, but it does suggest that brain volumes started out lower to begin with.”
He further added, “As a result, brain volumes may also serve as useful biological markers for gene variations linked to increased vulnerability for alcohol consumption.”
They found that the absence of grey matter volume in the brain, specifically in the middle and superior frontal area are passed on genetically through which researchers can predict future use and initiation.
The research concluded stating that the results can be generalised to other substances as they can all be affected by similar genetic factors.