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Scientists find out how alcohol dulls alertness

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Ethanol blocks the release of norepinephrine in cells, a substance that increases attention and alertness.

A team of scientists from the United States and Germany studied the changes in the brains of mice when drinking alcohol and found that ethanol blocks the release of norepinephrine, which is responsible for attention and alertness. The research results were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, along with colleagues at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Heidelberg in Germany, have used the latest two-photon imaging technique to make real-time observations of live animals. 

During the observations, they found that ethanol blocks the release of the neurotransmitter receptors, which provides chemical transmission of nerve impulse, in brain cells.

According to the authors of the experiment, this explains why people in a state of alcoholic intoxication have difficulty with attention and lose vigilance.

“When we want to focus on something or show any activity, for example, we just get up from a chair, the nucleus of the brain stem releases a chemical called norepinephrine. Acute exposure to alcohol suppresses this signal in the brain”

said the head of the study, MD Martin Paukert.

Scientists hope the findings will help pinpoint the brain circuits that determine alertness and the chemicals that weaken that brain function.

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