New study demonstrate for the first time that alcohol addicted mice have their brain’s functional architecture remodeled. If confirmed in humans, this should lead to better monitoring and treatment of people with addiction. Maybe we finally will understand why some never get rid of their addiction while others do – their brain may simply not be able to rewire during the time they are clean or may even be permanently remodelled. “Research groups have been fighting for years about whether ‘their’ brain circuit is the key to addiction. Our results confirm these regions are important, but the fact that we see such a massive remodeling of the functional brain architecture was a real shock. It’s like studying the solar system and then discovering that there is an entire universe behind it. It shows that if you really want to understand the neurobiological mechanisms leading to addiction, you can’t just look at a handful of brain regions, you need to look at the entire brain, you need to take a step back and consider the whole organ”, said senior author Olivier George, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Picture: Artistic representation of changes in mouse brain networks with alcohol dependence. The left side represents control individuals with numerous networks and small sets of connected brain regions indicated by lines. The right side represents individual mice with a history of alcohol dependence, depicting a small set of only three brain networks with a high number of connections.