Scientists have discovered a gene that is linked to teenage binge drinking. According to Reuters, a study found that a gene called RASGRF-2 can give people a “stronger sense of reward” when they drink because it stimulates the brain to release dopamine. The scientists discovered the link by removing the RASGRF-2 gene in mice, which reduced dopamine activity when the mice consumed alcohol and led to a reduction in alcohol-seeking activity.
Scientists then analyzed the brain scans of 663 teenage boys by looking at the teens’ brain activity when they were anticipating a reward in a mental test. People with a genetic variation on the RASGRF-2 gene release more dopamine when anticipating a reward. Teens with this gene variation also drank more often at the age of 16 than boys who did not have the gene variation.
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