NeuRA-Profile-2016 - page 18

A studyunderwayatNeuRAassesses
theeffect of bingedrinkingonemotional
processingas it hasnot been studied in
Adolescence is akeyperiod for teenagers
toperfect their emotional skills thatwill
enable them to functioneffectivelyas
adults. Emotional behaviour, including
detectionof emotions inother persons,
isbasedon the integrityofwhitematter
fibresbetweenkeyareasof the limbic
system suchas theamygdalaand the
prefrontal cortex.
“This studycomponentwaspart of the
PsychologyMasters thesisof Emma
Hubner,” saysDr LucetteCysique. “We
assessedemotional facial recognition
with theUNSWFaces task tomeasure
recognitionaccuracy for sadness, anger,
happiness, disgust andneutral emotion.”
Left and right amygdalavolumeswere
computedusinggold standardmanual
tracingoneach subjectMRI. The
study found that relative toabstainers,
bingedrinkerswere less accurate
at recognisingangry faces. Binge
drinkers andabstainersdidnot differ
in theoverall amygdala size. But the
greatest ever number of drinks across
all subjectswas associatedwith smaller
right amygdalavolume.
In thebingedrinkinggroup, smaller
right amygdalavolumewas associated
withpoorer processingof angry
faces. Alcohol interferencewithhome
management andability towork
was associatedwith smaller right
Overall, the studyprovides
preliminaryevidenceof a relationship
betweenadolescent bingedrinking
whichparticularly involve the
integrityof the right amygdalaand
that contribute tomeasurable impact
on social functioning.
Geneticmousemodels for schizophrenia:
thecandidategeneneuregulin 1.
Understandingmental and
neurodegenerativedisorders suchas
is the focusofAssocProfTimKarl and
his team. Behavioural phenotyping
techniques andpharmacological tools
areused todeterminegene-environment
interactions in thedevelopment of
these illnesses. Another focus is the
roleof theendocannabinoid system
in thesedisorders and thedetrimental
and sometimes therapeuticeffectsof
cannabisplant constituents.
Schizophrenia is achronicanddisabling
mental disorder that affectsonepercent
of theworld’spopulation.Neither
environment nor genetics alone is
sufficient tocause schizophrenia. Rodent
models for schizophrenia riskgenes, such
Bingedrinking–more thanfivedrinksonone
patternof drinkingamongyoungAustralians.
as theneuregulin 1gene, arecapable
of partiallymodelling its aetiologyand
clarifying the impact of thesegeneson
behaviour andbraindevelopment.
“Tomodel schizophrenia in its full
complexity,” saysAssocProfKarl, “it
is important todevelopmulti-factorial
animalmodels combininggeneticand
environmental schizophrenia risk factors,
for example, cannabis abuse, diet and
exercise.Our team focuseson theneuro-
behavioural characterisationof these
models, applyingamultitudeof different
behavioural phenotypingparadigms.”
Bingedrinking inadolescence
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