Just a taste of beer can make you feel better (and immediately want another sip). That’s the startling conclusion of researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine, published in the prestigious online journal Neuro-psychoparmacology. The study appears to show that just the flavors of beer in the first taste triggers the release of dopamine in the brain’s reward centers. It took just a half ounce of beer to give test subjects a sense of well being. The scientists made their findings by giving PET scans to 49 men with histories ranging from social to heavy drinking, as each tasted his favorite beer. Their scientific conclusion: “We hypothesized that beer’s flavor alone can reduce the binding potential of craclopride (a reflection of striatal DA release) in the ventral striatum, relative to appetitive flavor control.” In layman’s terms, gimme.
In a lamentable scientific oversight, researchers did not test the men’s reactions to wine. However, they did give the test subjects sips of Gatorade to compare with the responses to beer and said the positron emission tomography detected no significant dopamine release.