The taste of beer, even without any effect from alcohol, triggers a key reward chemical in the brain, according to a study on Monday that explores how people become hooked on booze.
Neurologists at the University of Indiana asked 49 men to drink either their favorite beer or Gatorade, a non-alcoholic sports drink, while their brains were scanned by positron emission tomography (PET).
The goal was to look at dopamine, a chemical in a part of the brain called the ventral striatum that gives the sensation of reward.
The beer was rationed out in tiny amounts — just 15 millilitres, or about one tablespoon, every 15 minutes — so that the brain could be scanned without the influence of alcohol.
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