Photo: Felix (flickr)
A study from Indiana University’s School of Medicine shows the taste of beer, not the alcohol, triggers the release of a chemical in the brain that is associated with substance abuse.
IU researchers studied 49 men by having them taste beer and Gatorade, then testing their neurological responses. They found that when the men tasted beer, their brain releases dopamine, a chemical that makes people feel happy.
Dr. David Kareken, a professor in the Indiana University Department of Neurology within the School of Medicine, says the problem is dopamine not only makes a person feel good, it is is also known to be associated with drinking and drug abuse.
“Things simply associated with drug intoxication can cause the release of dopamine and a lot of neuroscientists associate this dopamine signaling in the brains reward centers as a reflection of wanting for the drug,” he says.
In other words just the taste of beer not including the alcohol could play a role in alcohol addiction.
The study also found the dopamine response was stronger in people who had genetic history of alcohol addiction, meaning those who have relatives with addictions may be more susceptible to overdrinking.