April 17, 2013
INDIANAPOLISThe flavor of beer alone, without the effects of alcohol, is enough to trigger dopamine release in men, according to a study from Indiana University School of Medicine. For the study, 49 men first tasted beer, then Gatorade. Subsequent PET scans showed significantly more dopamine activity following the taste of beer than the Gatorade. Participants also reported an increased craving for beer after that initial taste, but no similar craving for Gatorade, despite some participants noting the sports drink tasted better. The researchers also noted the effect was greater among participants with a family history of alcoholism.
According to a press release from Indiana University: "Research for several decades has linked dopamine to the consumption of various drugs of abuse, although researchers have differing interpretations of the neurotransmitter's role. Sensory cues that are closely associated with drug intoxication (such as tastes and smells, or the sight of a tavern) have long been known to spark cravings and induce treatment relapse in recovering alcoholics. Many neuroscientists believe that dopamine plays a critical role in such cravings."
The study was published online in Neuropsychopharmacology.
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