Binge drinking could be down to personality, study finds

Ted Hennessey
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There is a personality type that makes you more likely to binge drink, a new study has found.

After observing the brains of mice when exposed to alcohol, neuroscientists at Vanderbilt University and The Salk Institute identified three drinking personality types - light, heavy and compulsive.

They were able to predict which of the mice would drink compulsively because their brains either simulated or diminished "punishment signals" when consuming alcohol.

Those with binge personality received fewer signals, meaning they could continue to drink despite the negative outcome.

Simulated punishment signals meant the mice were less likely to develop compulsive behaviour.

This is because the brain has a specific circuit that "serves as both a biomarker for the development of compulsive drinking and a driver of its expression".

The researchers could predict the mice’s drinking habits from the start.

According to the study, almost a third of adults drink compulsively when given alcohol.

It concluded: "Binge drinking unmasked individual differences, revealing latent traits in alcohol consumption and compulsive drinking despite equal prior exposure to alcohol.

"Distinct neural activity signatures of cortical neurons projecting to the brainstem before binge drinking predicted the ultimate emergence of compulsivity.

"Mimicry of activity patterns that predicted drinking phenotypes was sufficient to bidirectionally modulate drinking. Our results provide a mechanistic explanation for individual variance in vulnerability to compulsive alcohol drinking."