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Jul 01, 2014 07:35 AM EDT

Researchers Discover Brain Region Responsible For Hangovers

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University of Utah researchers have discovered the area of the brain responsible for hangovers.

Researchers said that lateral habenula gets triggered by bad experiences. When this part of the brain is damaged or chronically inactivated, people are driven to repeat unhealthy behaviours.

Lateral habenula brain region is linked to depression, avoidance behaviors and hangover.

A  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that excessive alcohol consumption accounted for about 88,000 deaths annually from 2006 to 2010 in the United States.

Excessive drinking constitutes binge drinkingheavy drinking and any alcohol use by pregnant women or those under the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years. Excessive alcohol use, including binge and underage drinking, is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to CDC.

Researchers said that the finding could help develop better treatments for alcoholics.

For the study, the researchers observed the behaviour of rats following administration of strong alcoholic drink over a period of several weeks. The researchers found that the rodents that possessed an incapacitated lateral habenula gulped more heavily than those with the healthy brain region.

"Rats with an inactivated lateral habenula sought out the juice more than control animals, even though it meant a repeat of the bad experience," Professor Sharif Taha, who led the study, said in a press release."If we can understand the brain circuits that control sensitivity to alcohol's aversive effects, then we can start to get a handle on who may become a problem drinker."

The finding is published in the journal PLOS One.

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