Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Boozy Flies

Studies in fruit flies show alcohol influences how memories and cravings are formed

20 November 2018

Boozy Flies

What is it about alcohol that makes us want to go back for more, even after a nasty hangover? Scientists are interested in what happens, at a molecular level, to encourage us to ignore the bad and focus on the positive rewards that we get from alcohol and other drugs of abuse. Fruit flies have a very similar reward pathway to our own, as well as a taste for alcohol. The team found that alcohol takes over how memories in the fruit fly brain (pictured) are formed. Even small amounts of the substance change how proteins are expressed in brain cells, shaping memory formation in the memory centres (in pink) and creating addiction-inducing cravings. By better understanding how cravings are formed in the brain, in future we may be able to reduce the strength and duration of these memories and help pave the way to recovery for alcoholics and addicts.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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