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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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Molecular Alterations of DNA Contribute to Persistence of Memory

November 2011
In a new series of studies tracing the molecular events that occur in the brain as memories are formed and preserved, researchers find that certain epigenetic changes may promote vulnerability to relapse.

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Mice With Genetic Alteration Eschew Cocaine

June 2008

Reports on a study involving researchers who successfully desensitized mice to cocaine by genetically altering their dopamine transporters.

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Methamphetamine Turns Helper Cells Into Destroyers

November 2009

Describes research providing evidence that chronic methamphetamine abuse is associated with increased microglial cell activity in the brain leading to neurodegeneration.

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Methamphetamine Restricts Fetal Growth, Increases Lethargy in Newborns

June 2008

Reports on research showing that newborns whose mothers abused methamphetamine during pregnancy showed lower rates of fetal growth as compared with unexposed newborns.

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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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Methamphetamine Abusers Show Increased Distractibility

April 2009

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.

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Methamphetamine Abuse Alters Response to Facial Cues

October 2009

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.

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Marker for Neuronal Damage Resolves a Year after Methamphetamine

December 2011

New results extend previous findings that some methamphetamine-induced neuronal damage resolves after a year of abstinence.

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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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Manic Mice Show Heightened Sensitivity to Rewards

October 2009

Reports on an animal study suggesting that the manic stage of bipolar disorder promotes signs of drug abuse vulnerability by enhancing sensitivity to rewards, both natural and drug-related.

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