Monday, April 02, 2007

Alcoholism & Evolution

I had this theory that maybe an abundance of
addictive behaviors persist in our society because there is some
benefit to having addictive behaviors (bay conversation, unpublished).
Of course they can be detrimental, but in the right environment they
would confer some reproductive advantage in early humans or even in
modern society. Anyways there is a great
article on the genetic susceptibility to alcoholism in scientific
. The article talks about GABA receptors and how they
might play a part in addiction. And
interestingly this article summarizes some information
implicating GABA receptors as an important ingredient in human brain
. Obviously no solid connection but I wonder if anyone
thinks about this kind of thing when they are looking at complex
behavior and if predisposition to these behaviors should be ‘cured’.


Anonymous said...

You are not alone in this, I've been wondering so came on your blog through a search. Evolutionary psychology is doing a lot of different reasearch but this question has not been answered yet as i'm in Leda Cosmides class, she is among the top in her field and she doesn't know this. We did talk about a former student of hers that is doing research on evolutionary psychology and addiction, somewhere. I think it is possible that some adaptation that occurs at different levels may just be triggered with alcohol but that the adaptation has nothing to do with adapting to alcohol itself. Because our ancestors did not have readily high quantities of stuff available and lower grade of course, and because it would have put them at high risk of not surviving to tell about it, and lower their competetive edge (maybe)i doubt that humans are evolving to alcoholics. Rather that an adaptation that took place may have a benefit for something but alcohol as a weakness? Like those with sickle cell anemia having immunity for malaria... Another thing that i wonder about is that alcoholism rates are increasing faster than generations are being produced, therefore non evolutionary event, rather result of change in norms and attitudes that makes exposure and frequency more likely, therefore triggering the addiction. Related to norm formation. said...

No doubt, the chap is totally fair.