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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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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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Cognitive Strategy Reduces Craving by Altering Brain Activity

April 2012

While viewing images of cigarettes, smokers reported milder cravings when they shifted their focus from the pleasures of smoking to its harmful effects. Brain imaging showed a correlation between the reductions in craving and altered activity levels in regions associated with emotional regulation and reward.

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Well-Known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepines' Addictive Properties

April 2012
New research establishes that benzodiazepines cause addiction in a way similar to that of opioids, cannabinoids, and the club drug GHB. The discovery opens the door to designing new benzodiazepines that counteract anxiety but are not addictive.

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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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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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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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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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New Class of Regulators for Addiction Genes

November 2011
New studies show that microRNAs, snippets of RNA implicated in a wide variety of biological processes, are involved in promoting and inhibiting cocaine addiction. The findings could pave a new path for the development of anti-addiction therapies.

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Resting Brain Studies Shed New Light on Vulnerabilities

November 2011

Individuals with weak signaling in a nicotine-sensitive brain circuit were more vulnerable to nicotine dependence than those with stronger signaling, according to a study conducted while the subjects’ brains were in a resting state. A second resting-state study finds that the same circuit appears to mediate dependence associated with a genetic risk factor for smoking.

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Disruption of Neuron Production in Adult Rats Increases Cocaine Taking

November 2011
Drug abuse may diminish production of new neurons in the brain’s hippocampus and thereby increase vulnerability to drug addiction.

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