Drinking mice have helped scientists understand how alcohol destroys families

© Fotolia / JacobSTЛабораторная mouseDrinking mice have helped scientists understand how alcohol destroys families© Fotolia / JacobST

Russian and American biologists conducted an unusual experiment on mice-voles, which showed that the relationship between the halves as quickly and irreversibly deteriorate, if the male begins drinking lots of water, as between men and women, and found a possible «culprit» of this in the brain of rodents, according to a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

«Not all rodents will form stable couples, and even fewer are drinking alcohol. Yellow-bellied voles are an exception in this respect because they form monogamous pairs and they like ethanol, which makes them ideal animals for studying how alcohol affects family relationships,» — says Andrey Ryabinin of Oregon state University in Portland (USA).

One of the biggest mysteries of the history of human evolution is why modern people, in contrast to almost all other primates, can drink large amounts of alcohol to get drunk and to experience other effects that turn some people into alcoholics. Most of the animals can not in principle to experience a similar sensation as their body quickly decomposes or ethanol, or can not tolerate even a small amount.

The presence of such abilities in humans, as scientists believe, could help our ancestors survive in the past, eating over-ripe and fermented fruits that couldn’t eat other primates or other inhabitants of the African forests and savannas. In consequence, this useful device has become the root of all the problems associated with the abuse of alcohol.

Ryabinin and his colleague Andrew Wolcott (Andrew Walcott) found that some social cons of alcohol are not unique to people, observing the behavior of couples of yellow-bellied voles (Microtus ochrogaster), part of which was a full-fledged alcoholics.

«We all know that couples one of whose members is a lot of drinking, more often apart than a normal family. On the other hand, if you drink both halves, we observed the opposite effect – drinking spouses disagree strongly no more than teetotalers,» says Ryabinin.

Scientists are interested in whether there had been such an unusual effect among voles, breaking them into several dozen pairs, some of which were composed of two individuals drinking as a «teetotaler» and a «alcoholic». Comparing the behavior of voles, researchers hoped to understand how alcohol affects relationships of rodents.

The strength of family ties, scientists have tested a very simple way – they were placed in a new cage the female and watched, which one is most often was a male. These observations confirmed the suspicion Ryabinin — drinking males spent much less time next to his «wife», often paying attention to a new female than voles-«abstainers». Nothing similar was observed in the families of heavy drinkers rodents – they kept each other allegiance as often as a pair, never prityagivayutsya to alcohol.

Scientists believe that such shifts in family relations voles were associated with the fact that alcohol changed the work of the Central gray matter and other brain areas of the male, related to sexual behavior. Similar abnormalities in the brain, according to Ryabinin and Walcott, can you explain why alcohol is one of the main destroyers of families today.

«We have shown that there is a biological mechanism that can explain why alcohol consumption is one of the family members leads to breakdown of relationships and breakups of families. If these ideas are confirmed in the course of observing people, in the future we will be able to develop techniques save families today who consumes alcohol» — concludes the scientist.