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Four high school students were honored for their work regarding e-cigarettes, the GABAA neuroreceptor, and adolescent multitasking.
The Scientific Director of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about switching off animals’ compulsive cocaine seeking by optogenetically activating the prefrontal cortex, and the implications of this work for people. In an accompanying podcast, Dr. Bonci walks viewers through experiments that showed that prefrontal cortex activity levels may constitute a simple switch controlling whether or not animals compulsively seek cocaine.
Two recent studies suggest that genotyping may enable clinicians to base therapies on individual patients’ potential responsiveness to opioid drugs’ therapeutic effects and vulnerability to their harmful effects.
A brain response occurs in the nucleus accumbens when rats encounter a cue that they associate with previous cocaine self-administration, but not a cue associated with a pleasurable non-drug experience. Moreover, the response correlates in time and intensity with the animals’ cue-induced relapse to cocaine-seeking.
One of NIDA’s goals is to try to understand the individual differences that contribute to whether or not someone who takes a drug will become addicted to it. Dr. Rutter’s research focuses on three types of differences: Environmental, developmental, and genetic and epigenetic.
Methamphetamine alters brain structures involved in decision-making and impairs the ability to suppress habitual behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive. The two effects were correlated, indicating that the structural change underlies the decline in mental flexibility.
Ketoprofen, an anti-inflammatory agent commonly prescribed to treat arthritis, reduces neuronal damage in rats that have been exposed to chronic stress and methamphetamine. If this finding of a recent NIDA-supported study extrapolates to humans, anti-inflammatory medications may gain a place in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.
Researchers have shut down laboratory rats’ compulsive cocaine seeking by stimulating an area of the animals’ prefrontal cortex. The finding raises the possibility that stimulating neurons in this brain area may weaken or break cocaine’s grip on the behavior of people who are addicted to the drug.
Dr. Kharasch is a NIDA-funded researcher known for a broad range of research into how drugs are metabolized in the body.
A meta-analysis of 13 genome-wide association studies of African Americans’ smoking patterns confirms the significance of genetic variation in region 15q25.1. The analysis also tentatively implicates several genome locations that have not previously been associated with smoking behaviors.
Dr. Marilyn Huestis of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about conducting research on drug effects with human subjects, developing tests to help law enforcement identify drugged drivers, and an assay to help identify children whose prenatal exposure to anti-HIV drugs may put them at risk for adverse developmental outcomes.
Mephedrone and methylone, two stimulants commonly found in designer drugs such as “bath salts,” act on the brain much like MDMA (Ecstasy).
New research demonstrated that, in rhesus monkeys, ongoing cocaine exposure weakens two brain functions that people require for successful behavioral change: cognitive flexibility and memory. But the study determined that these changes may not be permanent.
Clinical trials of N-acetylcysteine to help people recovering from drug abuse avoid relapse have demonstrated only moderate efficacy. New NIDA-supported research shows that while a low dose of the medication activates receptors associated with lowered drug-seeking behavior, a higher dose appears to activate receptors associated with increased drug-seeking behavior. The result suggests that a medication or combination of medications that stimulate the receptor GluR2/3 and block mGluR5 may work better than N-acetylcysteine alone.
The immune system has an extraordinary ability to recognize compounds foreign to the body and eliminate them. NIDA-sponsored scientists are working to harness this ability to create vaccines that will protect individuals against the psychogenic and addictive effects of abused drugs. This animation shows one of the most promising strategies, which has already yielded partial success in producing effective vaccines against nicotine, cocaine, and other drugs.
New research suggests that differences in tobacco consumption reflect, in part, differences in the functional efficacy of a specific type of receptor in a pathway of the brain. In animal studies, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors with the α5 subunit played a key role in producing aversive responses to nicotine, thereby dissuading further consumption of the drug.
Researchers correlate stimulant abusers’ improved performance on a memory training exerc ise with reductions in delay discounting.
NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow summarizes instances where discoveries with broad implications for human health arose from scientists seeking answers to addiction problems.
Describes research findings that show that chronic cocaine abuse may change the production of many proteins in the neurons of the brain’s reward system, aiding in our understanding how the drug causes addiction.
Reports on the objectives and activities of the Neuroscience Consortium and their impact on Institute drug abuse research programs and initiatives.
Describes research results reporting that people who favor novelty have lower-than-average availability of a receptor that inhibits dopamine's release from neurons, which likely stimulates the activity of reward circuits.
Describes a literature analysis reporting on the prevalence of people with bipolar disorder who also have a substance use disorder and discusses the genetic link that may contribute to this comorbidity.
Highlights NIDA’s research portfolio to identify the genes and genetic processes responsible for a person’s vulnerability to drug abuse.
Reports findings that a rare neuroreceptor may be linked to the intensive cravings cocaine abusers experience during their first weeks of abstinence.
Commemorates NIDA’s 35th anniversary and highlights some of the major accomplishments since the Institute’s inception in 1974.
Reports study results suggesting that genes for several acetylcholine receptor proteins influence early smoking responses and the likelihood of nicotine dependence.
Highlights findings from a study showing that nicotine triggers a surge in levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's main reward area for cigarette smokers.
Highlights the need for research to assess and find solutions to a potential rise in substance abuse among service men and women, veterans, and their families.
Describes research providing evidence that chronic methamphetamine abuse is associated with increased microglial cell activity in the brain leading to neurodegeneration.
Announces the recipient of a 2009 award for innovation in research on drug addiction and alcoholism whose research focuses on the cellular changes that occur in response to chronic cocaine abuse.
Reports an animal study presenting evidence that cocaine causes cognitive deficits that can persist well into abstinence.
Highlights activities held during Brain Awareness Week for students in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, to learn about brain anatomy and function.
Announces the 2009 high school student recipients of the Addiction Science Awards and describes their winning addiction-focused projects.
Describes study findings revealing that the act of smoking, apart from actual or expected nicotine delivery, may soothe a smoker's negative mood.
Highlights research showing methamphetamine abusers may have more difficulty than nonabusers in responding with empathy and self-control to people who are experiencing intense emotions.
Reports on a discovery of previously unrecognized dopamine receptors in the brain that when triggered by drug abuse lead to potentially long-term neuronal effects.
Describes research showing that cocaine abusers appear to have a rapid neural response to reward cues outside of their awareness, possibly signifying vulnerability to relapse.
Highlights an animal study involving the self-administration of nicotine among adolescent and adult rats to gain understanding of their potential vulnerability to the substance.
Presents highlights of a symposium sponsored by NIDA in October 2008 to discuss adolescent brain and cognitive development and consider the impact of drug abuse on young people.
Describes findings from an animal study showing that cocaine lowers availability of dopamine receptors in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that includes portions of the reward system.
Describes research with rats to better understand cocaine’s effect on the neural signaling in the learning circuits of the brain.
Highlights findings from a study of former methamphetamine abusers showing evidence of impairment in areas of the brain known to influence cognition, emotion, and decision making.
Describes a study among people who had sustained brain injuries to investigate whether certain damaged areas of the brain are associated with the ability to quit smoking.
Reports on NIDA researchers who developed a new tracer compound that binds readily to nicotine receptors and enhances positron emission tomography images.
Describes a consortium of three universities that launched a 12-month intensive online program last August that leads to a master's degree in addiction studies.
Describes NIDA’s drug abuse and addiction research priorities for the use of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds.
Remembers Henry I. "Hank" Yamamura, an eminent neuropharmacologist who pioneered radioligand binding assays, contributing valuable knowledge about neurotransmitter transporters and receptors.
Reports on three separate imaging studies illuminating the neurobiology of cigarette craving.
Discusses research exploring how widespread the reduction of neural activity is in the brain with chronic exposure to cocaine.
Describes research findings showing differences in protein concentrations in the brain pleasure centers of people who died from cocaine overdose as compared with those who did not abuse the drug.
Presents research findings linking 89 genes to drug abuse and dependence, found using genome-wide association studies, a new technique for identifying genes.
Announces the three winners of the NIDA and Scholastic Corporation 2008 Addiction Science Awards honoring high school students’ award-winning addiction-related projects.
Describes research findings demonstrating that the immune system participates in the shaping of brain circuits during a child's development, a finding that may shed light on the origins of neurodegenerative diseases.
Describes new tools under development, including one to visualize cells deep in the brain and another one that remotely activates brain cells.
Reports on a study involving researchers who successfully desensitized mice to cocaine by genetically altering their dopamine transporters.
Describes a booklet that explains what scientists know about how drug addiction changes the brain and affects behavior and clears up misconceptions about drug addiction.
Reports on evidence that toluene abuse can harm the nervous system and body, although scientists know relatively little about its specific actions.
Describes a knowledge- and resource-sharing system for NIH-funded neuroscientists to access to data, advanced research tools, and technical assistance.
Describes a study showing that cocaine, which increases dopamine levels, also can tap into an intracellular dopamine reserve pool.
Discusses the role of epigenetics, the study of cellular mechanisms that control gene expression and its impacts on health and behavior, in addiction research.
Reports on research showing that the neurons that deliver dopamine to two regions of the brain's mesolimbic reward system respond differently to opioids, an important finding for drug treatment research.
Reports on results from a study showing that men and women with alcohol use disorders are more likely to report nonmedical use of prescription drugs than people who don't drink at all.
Describes the work of researchers who have found a statistical link between one region on chromosome 17 and an increased risk of opioid dependence.
Discusses the central importance of studying drugs' effects on neurotransmission and describes some of the most common experimental methods used in this research.
Presents highlights of a study indicating that exposure to morphine during adolescence may increase sensitivity to the drug during adulthood.
Describes an NIH-wide obesity task force and research plan and explores some of the links between addiction and compulsive eating.
Describes the role of the Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research in NIDA’s drug abuse and addiction research plan.
Reports on the work of addiction researchers who are learning how acute and chronic cocaine exposure regulates certain genes, based on knowledge from developmental and cancer biology.