Different zests for beer might reveal more about alcohol’s effect on the brain reward system than inherent differences in taste sensitivity, according to findings by a group of researchers led by Judy Grisel of Furman University.

In a study using mice at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Grisel and ORNL’s Elissa Chesler are attempting to map genes responsible for differences in beer consumption.

“In our preliminary study, we have two critical findings,” said Grisel, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience. “There is no significant correlation between the drinking patterns and the allelic status of the taste receptor on Chromosome 2, and many strains of mice voluntarily consumed enough alcohol to become dependent.”

By studying self-administration of beer, this group has been able to decrease the influence of taste sensitivity that has been a big factor in previous studies in which scientists measured the consumption of alcohol mixed with water.

These findings run contrary to widely held beliefs dating back 50 years.

The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Furman Advantage Program and South Carolina independent colleges and universities.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory.



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