famdisIt is clear that people respond to alcohol in many different ways. Some people become more social when they drink. Other people become quiet and isolate themselves after they’ve had a few drinks. There is also a portion of the population that becomes very impulsive and acts without thinking after they have consumed alcohol. This latter group is the focus of a new study to determine why alcohol causes some people to act on impulse, rather than logic. Scientists wanted to see if there was some sort of genetic cause behind impulsivity and alcohol consumption.

In order to get the best results, scientists focused on Finland. In 2010 another group of researchers located a gene mutation within the Fins that may be more pronounced after alcohol consumption. The more recent study was conducted to find out if that gene mutation had anything to do with impulsivity. The Finland population is more isolated and provided more of an accurate map for scientists to study.

“We wanted to take a look at healthy people in the general population to check if this mutation had any effects. The most interesting finding was that it caused impulsive behavior while under intoxication, and that included impulsive sex, impulsively spending money, and driving under the influence. When they are sober they have a tendency towards impulsivity, but our discovery is that it will be enhanced by small amounts of alcohol,” explained Roope Tikkanen, one of the researchers of the study.

Drunk driving and violent behavior are two byproducts of drinking that has a major impact on families and communities. These issues have long been discussed and studied, but the Finland study sheds some light as to why some people are affected this way while others are not. While this particular study was small, it does provide guidance to researchers for future studies and research. In an environment where drunk driving claims thousands of lives a year, managing impulsivity and understanding how alcohol can affect this is crucial.

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