The taste of beer, without its alcoholic effects, may be enough to trigger the release of the pleasure chemical dopamine in the brain, a study finds.
To see how the taste of beer affects the brain, researchers gave a group of men tiny tastes of beer, and as the men sipped the beer, the researchers scanned the men’s brains. After a taste of beer, the men’s brains showed a notable release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with the pleasurable experience of consuming alcohol and other drugs. The effect was even greater among men who had a family history of alcoholism.
The findings are not surprising, scientists say, but having a way to assess predisposition to alcohol abuse could be useful.