Alcohol Changes Brain Activity Differently in Males and Females

Alcohol use is also closely correlated with mood disorders such as severe depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

Alcohol alters anxiety-related synchronized brain activity.

According to a recent study published in the journal eNeuro, alcohol changes the synchronized brain activity in the amygdala of mice, but differently for male and female mice.

Alcoholism is often associated with anxiety and sadness, and a brain area known as the amygdala is implicated in both. Both rodents and humans are susceptible to the effects of oscillations, or shifts in synchronized brain activity, between regions like the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. It is unknown, however, how alcohol could affect the amygdala network and influence behavior.

Alcohol Mice

Alcohol alters amygdala activity differently in male and female mice. Credit: DiLeo et al., eNeuro 2022

Alyssa DiLeo and her team administered alcohol to mice and measured corresponding changes in oscillatory states in the amygdala. Alcohol affected amygdala oscillations differently in male and female mice, especially after repeated alcohol administration. In fact, the oscillatory state of females did not change at all after repeated alcohol administration.

The researchers repeated the experiment in mice without a subunit of a receptor linked to alcohol use and anxiety, which induced traits of the female network activity in males. These results indicate alcohol can trigger the amygdala to switch activity states, which may drive changes in anxious and fearful behavior.

Reference: “Sex Differences in the Alcohol-Mediated Modulation of BLA Network States” by Alyssa DiLeo, Pantelis Antonoudiou, Spencer Ha and Jamie L. Maguire, 4 July 2022, eNeuro.
DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0010-22.2022

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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