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Alcohol can be traced back to ancient times when Egyptians used beer and wine for ritual and celebratory purposes (Hanson 1995). Osiris, the god of wine, was praised throughout the entire land of Egypt. The Egyptians believed that this important god also invented beer, a beverage that was considered a necessity of life and was brewed in the home. Both beer and wine were created for and sacrificed to the gods. Fast-forward 12,000 years and the variety of alcohol has become so numerous, people no longer need a reason to drink. However, most of the population is unaware of the chemical reaction that is occurring within their body every time they take a sip. It has always been evident that alcohol has an effect on brain function, which in-turn impairs the behavior of a person. Not only has alcohol been linked to multiple physical issues but also mental and emotional. When alcohol is consumed it can create acetaldehyde in the brain to allow a chemical reaction to take place with other elements already in the brain waiting to be activated. When acetaldehyde reacts with chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine then there is a strong chance that psychoactive alkaloids such as salsolinol will be produced (Sullivan et. al 2010). Acetaldehyde is present everywhere in the atmosphere and may be produced in the body due to the breakdown of ethanol.
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Methods and Results
When studying brain pathology, it is common to conduct postmortem research. This is because when a brain is functioning, it can be very difficult to view more than just images of the brain’s activity level. After a person dies, their brain goes through a process in order to preserve the brain structure, which in turn enables studies to be done (Sullivan et. al 2010). Studies conducted this way have contributed to our knowledge of the permanent nervous system damage from long-term and reoccurring alcohol intoxication. In terms of temporary effects, the list includes impaired judgment, poor insight, distractibility, cognitive rigidity, and reduced motor skills. Acute alcohol intoxication compared with sobriety effects hand-eye coordination, stability in gait and balance, and speed performance. This translates into alcoholics still being able to do tasks that require hand-eye coordination, it just seems to take them a longer amount of time to do so (Sullivan et. al 2010). When viewing a brain in vivo, a MRI is conducted and the images presented give insight as to which parts of the brain are being used while in the scanner. This machine has allowed comparison between a frequent drinker and a sober person. The average person uses the part of the brain called the dorsal neural stream when they are recalling memories whereas alcoholics use a different part of the brain called the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (Sullivan et. al 2010). Many problems contracted while alcoholism is taking place can start to recover over extended sobriety, however they are also in danger to further decline with continued drinking.
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