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Animal Study Sheds Light on Blacking Out from Drinking Alcohol


An animal study suggests what may happen in the brain when a person drinks so much alcohol that he or she blacks out. The study of rat brains, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found alcohol interferes with certain receptors in the brain.

These receptors make steroids that inhibit a process that strengthens the connections between nerve cells in the brain, and is important in memory and learning.

In a news release from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the researchers said that having a better understanding of what occurs when formation of memories is inhibited by alcohol, could lead to strategies to improve memory.

A recent study suggests that the more alcohol-related memory blackouts a college student has, the greater the risk he or she has of future accidental injuries related to drinking.

1 Response to this article

  1. Avatar of Thomas L. Haynes, MD
    Thomas L. Haynes, MD / July 15, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I’m confused! If alcohol interferes with “receptors” that “make” steroids (receptors don’t make hormones/neurotransmitters, they receive them.) that inhibit processes that are important for memory formation, then memory formation should be enhanced, not impaired. Put another way: More alcohol, less “steroids”, less inhibition of memory formation. There seems to be a contradiction in your description.

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