A new study has identified two pathways in the reward center of the brain that may be manipulated to help treat alcohol addiction.
Published in Biological Psychiatry, the study found the two pathways in the dorsal striatum, the reward center of the brain, regulate the “go pathway” to encourage rewarding behavior and the “no-go pathway” that halts behavior. They have the opposite effects, however, on control of alcohol consumption behavior.
The team trained mice to become heavy drinkers by repeated cycles of consumption and withdrawal of 20 percent alcohol and measured the effects on the balance of the reward center. The findings reveal detailed information on the mechanisms underlying control of alcohol consumption and identify potential therapeutic targets.
“The balance between signaling in the go and no-go pathways is likely to be a critical factor influencing motivated behavior, generally, said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. “This balance might be targeted to treat alcoholism, but also other addictions, mood disorders, and perhaps, OCD.”