Do you yearn for a drink after a stressful day? Be careful: a new study shows that some people are predisposed to drink to drown their sorrows. Researchers with Duke University studied 200 college students from across the country, using MRI scans to examine the reward and threat circuits in their brain. The researchers found that a certain type of person is especially prone to stress-related drinking—someone whose brain experiences a heightened desire to seek immediate reward and a weaker sense of risk. As one researcher put it, “Too much drive for the cheese and too little fear of the trap.”
These same neurological characteristics are also linked to problem drinking in the future, indicating that a certain type of person may have a strong tendency to abuse substances to deal with their emotions. Although previous studies have examined the reward circuit and its relationship to drinking, this is the first to also find that the threat circuit plays a role in someone’s drinking habits.
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