Alcohol alters the mechanism of memory formation at the molecular level

Only a few glasses of alcohol is changing the way of the formation of our memories at the molecular level. This tells a new study conducted by a group of scientists from the American brown University (Brown University), the results of which were published in the journal Neuron (Neuron).

Us scientists decided to investigate the role of molecules and genes in encoding memories associated with reward.

The starting point of the researchers was a relatively simple question: why do people persist in using the substance that have unpleasant effects on their body and brain? Drugs both strong and weak action (opiates, alcohol, etc.) often cause unpleasant effects: nausea, vomiting, headaches, hangovers. Why do we only remember the good feelings associated with these neurotoxins, and forget the negative feelings?

Working with fruit flies, which perches on alcohol, the researchers investigated the role of different genes and proteins involved in the formation of addiction and reward system.

The first step was to identify molecules that change when there is a craving for alcohol or drugs or withdrawal syndrome narcotic drug. This is an important aspect of the project, which can help to find new methods of drug addiction treatment a reduction in the intensity of pleasant memories associated with drug abuse.

The researchers found that one of the main proteins that causes flies to seek alcohol, is a Notch (a family of transmembrane proteins containing repeated sequences of the extracellular domains of EGF and DSL). Notch’s first acts in signaling pathways that play a role in the development of embryos and brains of all animals, including humans.

The researchers also found that genes D2-like receptors (D2 dopamine receptor type 2) involved in these signal pathways are also suffering from alcohol. These genes produce a protein in neurons that can detect dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes pleasant feelings, which is known to play a role in the encoding of positive memories.

In the studied ways to reward, scientists have found that molecular signals has not changed, and the amount of protein remained unchanged. However, there was a slight change in the version produced protein.

Charles cahoon explained the results of the study using the following analogy with people:

One glass of wine is enough to activate this path, but it returned to normal within the hour. After three glasses with an hour break between them it does not return to normal within 24 hours. We believe that such consistency is likely alters gene expression in memory circuits, says Carl Kaun.

Dmitry Kolesnik