Scientists say that people who have a genetic variation of the RASGRF-2 gene are more likely to be heavy drinkers as compared to others.
A latest study reveals that addictive drugs like alcohol tend to activate the brain's dopamine systems and thereby induce feelings of reward and pleasure; alcohol tends to give a stronger feeling of reward to people who have the RASGRF-2 gene, thereby making them more likely to be binge drinkers.
This study was conducted by a team at the King's college London's Institute of Psychiatry, under the leadership of Gunter Schumann. Explaining his team's discovery Schumann stated:
"People seek out situations which fulfill their sense of reward and make them happy, so if your brain is wired to find alcohol rewarding, you will seek it out."
The research was initially conducted on mice. The team found that mice lacking this gene had less desire for alcohol as against those with the RASGRF-2 gene. The team then conducted a brain scan of 663 teenage boys during a mental test premeditated to make them anticipate an award.
They discovered that boys with the RASGRF2 gene had more activity in an area of the brain called the ventral striatum which is also involved in dopamine release. Two years later, when the researchers contacted the same sample of boys, they found that those with the 'culprit' variation on the RASGRF-2 gene drank more frequently.
On these findings Schumann said:
"We now understand the chain of action: how our genes shape this function in our brains and how that, in turn, leads to human behavior."
He also added that more work was still needed to prove this theory.