Why women drink harder than men


Generally speaking, women tend to drink less than men. But if a woman has problems with alcohol, then these problems will quickly become very serious – in this sense, women drink harder and harder than men. There are probably some socio-cultural reasons here, but the staff Cornell University believe that it is not only about them.

There are many experiments with animals, from which it follows that in mammals, the female sex is more prone to binge drinking and that females move faster from the first exposure to alcohol to diseases associated with alcoholism. It is also known that the propensity to binge depends on a nerve center called the core bed of the terminal strip, or BNST. The terminal strip itself is a group of nerve fibers that work as an exit train from the amygdala, or amygdala (and the amygdala, as we remember, is one of the main emotional centers). The area of ​​the terminal strip called the core of the bed is known to play a large role in the stress response; the degree of anxiety we experience in connection with some unpleasant circumstance largely depends on the BNST. But also BNST activity is associated with alcohol binge. (We are talking specifically about hard drinking, that is, when a person consumes a lot of alcohol in a short time.)

In this case, the BNST is connected to many other areas of the brain. In an article in Nature Communications In female mice, BNST is said to be more responsive to incoming signals. The increased excitability of BNST is fought by another nerve center – the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus, PVT: impulses from the PVT suppress the activity of the terminal strip nucleus. And while PVT is working, females are not threatened with severe alcoholism. But if you cut off the link between PVT and BNST, then the female mice will fall into binge. But in the behavior of males, there will be no difference: their BNST is generally less active than that of females, and the male addiction to alcohol depends little on how PVT and BNST work.

That is, we can say that the tendency of females to binge is a side effect of the fact that one of the brain stress management centers (that is, BNST) is more active in them than in males. As long as BNST has a fuse (paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus, PVT), no trouble should be expected. But if the connection between PVT and BNST weakens, if PVT ceases to perform its functions, then some anomalies will appear in the behavior of females. And, as the researchers believe, these anomalies may be associated with more than just alcohol.

Although the experiments were done in mice, most likely the same mechanism works in humans. Now there are methods of treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders based on stimulation or suppression of one or another area of ​​the brain – perhaps, acting on the PVT – BNST ligament, it is possible to achieve success in the treatment of some of these disorders in women.


Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by www.nkj.ru.

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