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Moderate drinking may boost memory, study suggests

nt of time, a researcher replaced one of the objects with a new, round object made of glass. The researchers measured the amount of time that each rat spent checking out the new object an indication that the animal recognizes it as a new object.

Rats given low doses of alcohol spent about three times longer examining the new object than did rats on the alcohol-free diet. Rats given the high dose of alcohol spent equivalent amounts of time checking out both objects, suggesting that they were unable to differentiate the old object from the new one.

For the second task rats were placed in a box with two chambers separated by a door. One chamber was well-lit, while the adjacent chamber was dark. After placing a rat in the well-lit chamber and then lifting the door, the researchers timed how quickly the rats entered the dark chamber (rats are nocturnal, and naturally prefer dark spaces.) Once inside the dark chamber, the rat received a mild electric shock to its feet.

The researchers repeated this same experiment 24 hours later, and kept track of how long it took the animal to enter the dark chamber. Many of the animals re-entered the dark area, yet the rats given alcohol waited anywhere from 2.5 to 4.5 times longer to enter the dark chamber than did the animals given the alcohol-free diet.

"The results suggest that both doses of alcohol moderately improved the animals' ability to remember this negative event, since they seemed hesitant to go into the dark area," During said. "It also suggests that high levels of alcohol can reinforce bad memories.

"People who drink to forget bad memories may actually be doing the opposite by reinforcing the neural circuits that control negative emotional memory," he continued.

At the end of the study, the researchers analyzed brain and liver tissue from each animal.

They found that low levels of alcohol increased the expression of a particular receptor, NR1, on the s
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Contact: Matthew During
During.1@osu.edu
614-247-4351
Ohio State University
25-Oct-2006


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