How alcohol affects brain transitions

New Delhi: Regardless of your own drinking habits, having a parent with an alcohol use disorder affects how your brain transitions between active and resting states, according to new research. The study reveals that the brain reconfigures itself between completing a mentally demanding task and resting. This reconfiguration doesn't happen in the brain of someone with a family history of an alcohol use disorder, however.

While the missing transition doesn't seem to affect how well a person performs the mentally demanding task itself, it might be related to larger scale brain functions that give rise to behaviours associated with addiction.

In particular, study subjects without this brain process demonstrated greater impatience in waiting for rewards, a behaviour associated with addiction.The study defined a ‘family history of alcoholism’ as someone with a parent who had enough symptoms to constitute an alcohol use disorder. About half of the 54 study participants had this history.

The data revealed that the brain connectivity patterns reconfigured within the first three minutes after finishing the task. By the fourth minute of rest, the effect had completely disappeared.

And it's not a quiet process: Reconfiguration involves multiple parts of the brain at once. Subjects lacking the transition also had the risk factors that researchers have seen to be consistent with developing alcoholism. These include being male, a greater number of symptoms of depression, and reward-impatience.