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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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Study Assesses Functional Deficits Due to HIV and Methamphetamine Use

November 2014

Methamphetamine use and HIV infection raise the risk for functional dependence, or the need for assistance with everyday tasks. People who use methamphetamine and are HIV positive showed the highest levels of functional dependence in most domains of daily life.

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Animation: The Rise and Fall of the Cocaine High

November 2014

This animation shows the rapid passage of cocaine through the brain. It demonstrates that the intensity of the cocaine “high” parallels the trajectory of cocaine levels in the brain.

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A Genetic Nexus of Obesity and Smoking

October 2014

Research shows that some gene variants that influence body mass index also shape smoking behaviors.

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Dr. Antonello Bonci Q & A: Lighting Up the Brain To Shut Down Cocaine Seeking

July 2014

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.

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Gene Variants Reduce Opioid Risks

June 2014

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.

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New Insight Into How Cues Cause Relapse to Cocaine

May 2014

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.

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Device Detects Marijuana in Breath Hours After Smoking

May 2014

Driving under the influence of marijuana is a dangerous public health concern. NIDA researchers have discovered that breath expelled into a Breathalyzer-style collection device contained measurable amounts of THC for up to 2 hours after participants in a recent clinical trial smoked the drug.

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Marijuana Use May Promote Nicotine Consumption

April 2014

Exposing rats to THC increases the likelihood that the animals will later self-administer nicotine. THC-exposed rats are also willing to work harder to obtain nicotine. When extrapolated to people, the findings suggest that THC’s pharmacological impact on the brain may make a person who uses marijuana more vulnerable to developing nicotine addiction, an underappreciated health consequence of marijuana use.

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Methamphetamine Alters Brain Structures, Impairs Mental Flexibility

March 2014

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.

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Stress-Induced Enzyme Compounds Methamphetamine Neurotoxicity

January 2014

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.

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