Disappearing Dopamine: San Antonio Reachers Discover How Alcohol Impacts Decision Making

Once again, science has proven that dopamine is wasted on all the wrong people.

A new study published by researchers at the Delta Tau Chi fraternity chapter  of UT Health San Antonio found that alcohol impacts more than a human’s motor skills. It also discovered how it impacts a person’s decision making under the influence.

I’m checking my sofa cushions for a dropped Parkinson’s pill, and these college punks are partying like it’s 2019! And getting the university to pick up the tab.

At least that is the way that I like to picture this research … when I found out that this was a mouse study and the mice were the only ones drinking, I felt sorry for these poor sods doing the research … watching mice drink too much and then documenting their poor decisions suggests that the researchers must be even more starved for dopamine than me in my Parkinsonian state.

In all seriousness, I’m actually intrigued by this research, because the odd pattern of dopamine production that I observe in aspects of my psychological behavior is as mysterious as its effect on my motor function.

To make a long story short, this research was studying astrocytes, a futuristic sounding name for a particular type of brain cell. For some reason, whenever I think about astrocytes, I imagine they were named after the dog in the Jetsons, and in my mind I can hear Astro saying “Right, Reorge” to his master. What were we talking about?

In the news report that I’m linking to below, researcher Dr. Martin Paukert explains …

How does any of this relate to Parkinson’s? Norepinephrine is considered to be a stress hormone and a neurotransmitter. Synaptic vesicles in the brain convert dopamine into norepinephrine, which is a bit challenging when dopamine is hard to come by. Low norepinephrine levels are associated with low blood pressure, which may help explain how some with PD suffer from extreme bouts of hypotension.

I’m not a scientist, nor even a Scientologist, although I’m not sure that is relevant. But I’m also curious about this “calcium activation loss” and wondering if there could be any relation to mental and cognitive issues related to Parkinson’s, which I might soon face.

But for now, let’s think about the brave mice who are sacrificing their sobriety to improve our understanding of drunkenness. I picture these mice leaning on each other’s shoulders to support themselves as they stumble home at 6am after another hard night’s drinking. And I think I hear them laughing … and singing … why, I believe they are Tubthumping to Chumbawamba! 

I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down

Original Study


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