Moderate Alcohol Consumption, Memory, and Alzheimer’s Disease

The moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine or liquor) increases the expression of a brain receptor believed to be important to learning and memory, according to a new study. This could have important implications for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study investigated the relationship between alcohol and memory in lab rats. “ In memory tests, rats that consumed moderate levels of alcohol outperformed those given high doses of alcohol or none at all. Rats that consumed alcohol also experienced a change in brain neurons associated with improved memory. Researchers found alcohol increases the expression of the receptor NR1 on the surface of a part of the brain called the hippocampus. Both NR1 and the hippocampus are linked are linked to memory.”

In another experiment, “researchers blocked NR1 receptors in lab rats given alcohol. In this situation, the rats did not have improved memory. Researchers conclude alcohol improves memory by increasing the expression of NR1.”

Study author Matthew During, M.D., Ph.D., of Ohio State University in Columbus, told Ivanhoe news service that "People have reported how bad alcohol is for the brain based on studies where people were heavy drinkers who had nutritional deficiencies and all sorts of other problems that put their brain at risk."  Abusive drinking is never desirable, but Dr. During’s study examined the effects of moderate consumption of alcohol.

 

References:

  • Williams, Lucy. Alcohol Boosts Memory, Fights Alzheimer’s. Medical Breakthroughs: Reported by Ivanhoe. October 27, 2006. Dr. During’s research was presented  at the  36th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Atlanta, Oct. 14-18, 2006; Society for Neuroscience, published online 2006.

filed under: Brain

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