Drug Rehab Programs Rely on Science to Develop Effective Addiction Treatment Methods
For years, we’ve known that an overabundance of alcohol is harmful for the mind and for the body. The potential damage is something that scientists continue to study to gain a better understanding of the relationship between cerebellar activity and the frontal lobe. As our knowledge improves, so can our approach to addiction treatment and drug rehab.
This recent Medical News Today release highlighted a new study that examined this relationship with the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The brain functions in the alcoholic participants were measured during an exercise that involved finger-tapping.
According to Baxter P. Rogers, corresponding author on the study and a research assistant professor with the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science, chronic exposure to alcohol affects a number of human capabilities, including problem-solving and visual-spatial skills. Motor functions are also affected, such as balance in standing when the cerebellum dysfunctions as a result of long-term exposure and damage.
Finger tapping was selected as the primary activity in this study as the rhythmic movement is simple, yet relies on the parts of the brain often damaged by chronic exposure to alcohol. This activity also relies on portions of the frontal cortex and the cerebellum to function, both of which are affected with alcoholism. Rehab programs can focus on improving these functions once we better understand the impact chronic alcohol exposure can have.
The results of this study suggest there is a weakening affect on alcoholic individuals, even if they haven’t been exposed to alcohol in the week prior to the study. This weaker relationship could suggest direct injury to one or both areas of the brain, disruption to neural pathways or a compensation for injuries in other parts of the brain.
Rogers also suggests that the weakened relationship could have already been in place before the person started drinking, which could suggest a predisposition to alcoholism.
Understanding this relationship and the subsequent consequences is critical in the development of drug rehab programs that can target specific causes for alcoholism development and enable an individual to overcome their addiction.