The Checkup: Drunk Mice Provide Clues for Human Alcoholics

Mice bred to choose alcohol over other beverages are providing researchers with insight into what makes alcoholics tick.

• It’s not everyday I get to use the words “drunk” and “mice” in the same sentence, but here goes: A research team at Indiana University have bred a bunch of lab mice to choose alcohol over other beverages, leading them to be, well, pretty much drunk around the clock. For their study, which was published in a journal called Addiction Biology, the mice reached blood-alcohol levels three times the legal driving limit for humans and to the point that only “the severest human alcoholics attain,” according to this article. Since mice share 80 percent of their genes with humans, the hope is that by looking at their behaviors and predispositions to alcoholism (don’t ask me how that’s measured), the research team will be better able to understand alcoholism in humans.

• Researchers in Italy have been studying the effect of brain stimulation on stroke patients who lose the ability to sense or react on one side of their body; they’ve come up with some promising results. USA Today reports that study subjects who received magnetic brain stimulation recovered faster that those who didn’t, showing some improvement in two weeks and significant improvement in a month. More here.

• Tuck this in the “huh, that’s interesting” file: A new NPR report found that most US hospitals no longer perform autopsies. The reason? They’re dang expensive.