New research suggests that sexually thwarted fruit flies will take refuge in alcohol, while just-mated flies are more likely to pass on the booze. According to FoxNews.com , the alcoholic tendencies of chronically rejected flies may be due to decreased levels of a brain chemical called neuropeptide F (NPF), which researchers play a role in the fly’s reward system. When the fly does something that would be good for it evolutionarily, such as mating or eating food, and internal mechanism increases NPF. But NPF levels can be increased by outside mechanisms, including alcohol.
One study researcher said, “What we discovered was an internal play between internal rewards and external rewards. There’s some kind of system in the brain, which we think is NPF regulating, that represents the level of internal reward. If there is perturbation in the level of NPF in the brain, there are behaviors that will return the levels back to normal.”
Humans have a similar neuropeptide in their brains, called neuropeptide Y, and researchers have found a link NPY and reward-related behaviors such as eating. NPY is also known to inhibit alcohol consumptions, and mutations in NPY has been noticed in alcoholics. Researchers hope this information will be helpful in treating alcoholism.
Image courtesy of Fox News and Wikipedia.