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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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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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Nicotine Makes Mouse Brain More Responsive to Cocaine

February 2013

Nicotine sensitizes the mouse brain to the addictive effects of cocaine, according to recent NIDA-supported research. The results accord with the hypothesis that a person’s initial use of an addictive substance physiologically sensitizes his or her brain to the rewarding and addictive effects of other substances. If the findings carry over to people, then preventing youths from smoking might reduce their vulnerability to cocaine abuse and addiction, and cocaine-dependent individuals might ease their path to recovery by quitting smoking.

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Nicotine Boosts Mood, Brain Dopamine Levels

November 2009

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.

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New Tracer for Nicotinic Receptors Promises Improved Specificity

April 2009

Reports on NIDA researchers who developed a new tracer compound that binds readily to nicotine receptors and enhances positron emission tomography images.

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New Technique Links 89 Genes to Drug Dependence

September 2008

Presents research findings linking 89 genes to drug abuse and dependence, found using genome-wide association studies, a new technique for identifying genes.

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New Method Uncovers How Internal States Influence the Living Brain to Change Behavior

March 2012

In an innovative NIDA-funded study, published in Cell, scientists introduced a modified dopamine receptor gene into the brain of a living vinegar fly

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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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