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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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Receptor Complexes Link Dopamine to Long-Term Neuronal Effects

October 2009

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.

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Rats Reared Alone Show ADHD Signs

December 2009

Describes an animal study showing that rats raised in isolation may prove useful in future studies exploring the neurobiology that links impulsivity and vulnerability to addiction.

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Rare Glutamate Receptor Proliferates After Cocaine Withdrawal

December 2009

Reports findings that a rare neuroreceptor may be linked to the intensive cravings cocaine abusers experience during their first weeks of abstinence.

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Prenatal Nicotine Exposure May Damage Receptors That Influence Auditory Processing

April 2009

Reports on a series of animal experiments indicating that nicotine exposure during prenatal fetal development damages a set of receptors in the brain's auditory processing center.

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Prenatal Cocaine Exposure Increases Monkeys' Impulsivity Into Adulthood

July 2012

Prenatal drug exposure can have behavioral effects that last well into adulthood, according to two studies of adult monkeys prenatally exposed to cocaine. In the first study, drug-exposed monkeys exhibited less flexibility than controls in adjusting to changing circumstances; in the second study, drug-exposed males exhibited a greater preference than controls for having rewards right away, a sign of impulsivity.

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Prefrontal Cortex Stimulation Stops Compulsive Drug Seeking in Rats

January 2014

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.

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Physical Activity Reduces Return to Cocaine Seeking in Animal Tests

April 2012

Two independent animal studies suggest that aerobic exercise might help cocaine abusers establish and maintain abstinence.

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Peer Interaction Enhances Adolescent Rats' Drug Reward

April 2010
Describes an animal study reporting that peer interaction enhances adolescent rats’ drug reward and discusses the impact of these findings to future research on drug reward in social context.

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Optical Technologies Expand Vistas Into the Brain

September 2008

Describes new tools under development, including one to visualize cells deep in the brain and another one that remotely activates brain cells.

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Not All Mesolimbic Dopamine Neurons Are Alike

March 2008

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.

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