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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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Lower Levels of Dopamine-Regulating Receptors Among Novelty Seekers

October 2010

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.

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Low Dopamine Receptor Availability May Promote Cocaine Addiction

April 2009

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.

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Long-Term Cocaine Self-Administration Depresses Brain Activity

December 2008

Discusses research exploring how widespread the reduction of neural activity is in the brain with chronic exposure to cocaine.

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Investigators Map Functional Networks in the Rat Brain

June 2012
Researchers have mapped the fundamental functional organization of the rat brain and shown that it resembles that of the human brain.

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In Animals, Receptor Puts Brakes on Nicotine Consumption

March 2012

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.

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Impacts of Drugs on Neurotransmission

October 2007

Discusses the central importance of studying drugs' effects on neurotransmission and describes some of the most common experimental methods used in this research.

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Immune System Plays Unexpected Role in Brain Development

September 2008

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.

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Imaging Studies Elucidate Neurobiology of Cigarette Craving

December 2008

Reports on three separate imaging studies illuminating the neurobiology of cigarette craving.

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Genetic Overlap Between Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder

April 2010

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.

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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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