[Ibogaine] Brain Imaging Links Thinking Patterns to Addiction

Matthew Shriver matt at itsupport.net
Sat Dec 29 23:54:13 EST 2007

This was an interesting article but it seems like the "scientists" are
overstating their case a bit much.  The correlation between the genetics and
the dopamine levels is worth investigating I think.   But a single study
involving 19 people is a long way from solid proof of anything. I would have
been interested to know how long the alcoholics had been sober.  I mean a
few days or week off of a multiple year or multiple decade career of
alcoholism and you would fully expect cognitive impairment so I think that
information is very relevant.

I am usually pretty impressed with the studies that I have seen come out of
the Ernest Gallo research center and I find it impressive that a company
that sells alcohol would have even set the place up to begin with, unless of
course you told me they were trying to figure out how to cause alcoholism
instead of develop treatments for it; that sounds more likely to my cynical
sensibilities.  But gladly that doesn't appear to be the case with this
place.  But there seemed to be a bit too much speculation in this article.
For instance this quote:  

"Our data suggest there may be a cognitive difference in people with
addictions," Boettiger said. "Their brains may not fully process the
long-term consequences of their choices. They may compute information less

Although I wouldn't disagree with the first sentence, where does the
determination of "less efficiently" come from exactly?  It can sometimes be
an asset to have the ability to ignore likely long term consequences to make
a decision.  If an important decision must be made immediately, being
paralyzed by indecision about possible long term consequences can be a

"The scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to
image brain activity while subjects were faced with a hypothetical scenario:
choose less money now, or more money later."

If these were the only kinds of questions they asked I'm a little skeptical
about the conclusions.  Did they attempt to control for other factors, such
as finances? With only 19 people there could easily be extenuating
circumstances that more of the sober alcoholics faced than the control group
that had them preferring cash on the barrelhead rather than waiting for an
investment.  Incidentally, it is already pretty well known that delayed
gratification is usually not among the most strongly developed traits among
addicts.  As I said, what makes it interesting in my opinion is the
correlation of brain chemistry and genetics to this behavior.

Then there is this:

"The study revealed reduced activity in the orbital frontal cortex in the
brains of subjects who preferred "now" over "later," most of whom had a
history of alcoholism."

And this:

"The parietal cortex and the dorsal prefrontal cortex were much more active
in people unwilling to wait. This could mean, Boettiger said, that the area
is working less efficiently in those people."

So you have one area showing reduced activity and two areas showing
increased activity, seems a bit inconclusive to me. To attribute the
increased activity to "the area is working less efficiently" is pretty
clearly an interpretation that the data does not give itself.  In fact other
than during a seizure I have never heard of this kind of interpretation for
increased brain activity.  

What it looks like to me is that genetic variation produces people with
differing cognitive propensities.  These propensities can contribute to or
help counteract a predisposition for substance abuse and addiction.  And of
course Darwin told us all this quite a while back.


-----Original Message-----
From: ibogaine-bounces at mindvox.com [mailto:ibogaine-bounces at mindvox.com] On
Behalf Of marko at phantom.com
Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2007 2:19 PM
To: The Ibogaine List
Subject: [Ibogaine] Brain Imaging Links Thinking Patterns to Addiction

In a study comparing brain activity of sober alcoholics and non-addicted
people making financial decisions, the group of sober alcoholics showed
significantly more "impulsive" neural activity.

The researchers also discovered that a specific gene mutation boosted
activity in these brain regions when people made impulsive choices. The
mutation was already known to reduce brain levels of the neurotransmitter
dopamine. The newly found link involving the gene, impulsive behavior and
brain activity suggests that raising dopamine levels may be an effective
treatment for addiction, the scientists say.



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