Study: Alcoholic Women Have Larger Brain's Reward System Structures Than Alcoholic Men

By KM Diaz, | April 21, 2017

The brain's reward system structures of alcoholic women tend to be bigger than alcoholic men.

The brain's reward system structures of alcoholic women tend to be bigger than alcoholic men.

Research confirmed that the brain's reward system structures of alcoholic women tend to be bigger than alcoholic men.

The researchers gathered the currently abstinent individuals with a history of long-term alcohol use disorder, and they were found to have a negative association between the size of the fluid-filled ventricles and period of sobriety. The study was published in journal Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging.

Like Us on Facebook

Gordon Harris, Ph.D., the co-author of the study, says the that the volume of the reward regions among alcoholic women has been poorly recognized until now because several studies have always performed in men. Now, the findings could help them in developing a gender-specific for alcoholism treatment.

The reward system of the brain is a group of structures, like the hippocampus and the amygdala. The system is responsible for strengthening beneficial experiences such as complex decision-making and memory, but it is also said to be involved in the progress of some substance use disorders.

There are differences between the behavioral and psychological profiles among women and men when it comes to alcoholism. Women likely increase the levels of anxiety, while men tend to manifest anti-social characteristics. The current study aims to distinguish the alcoholism-associated reward system variation that was previously seen in men and in women.

30 men and 30 women were involved in the study with histories of long-term alcoholism and had abstinent from four weeks to 38 years. They completed the neuropsychological assessments and comprehensive medical histories with the researcher. After that, they were examined using MRI brain scans at the Martinos Center to analyze their total brain and the structures in the reward network.

Combining the results from previous studies, the researchers were able to identify the difference between men and women's reward system structure. Alcoholic men have 4.1 percent, while alcoholic women have 4.4 percent of the reward system. Intensity and duration of heavy drinking are considered to be the major factors which reinforce these gender-specific effects. However, the researchers could not identify if the differences preceded or due to alcoholism development.

©2017 Telegiz All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission
Real Time Analytics