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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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Drug Cues Outside Awareness Rapidly Trigger Brain's Emotion Centers

October 2009

Describes research showing that cocaine abusers appear to have a rapid neural response to reward cues outside of their awareness, possibly signifying vulnerability to relapse.

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Damage to Brain Area May Immediately Halt Cigarette Addiction

April 2009

Describes a study among people who had sustained brain injuries to investigate whether certain damaged areas of the brain are associated with the ability to quit smoking.

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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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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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Adolescent Rats Self-Administer More Nicotine Than Adults

April 2009

Highlights an animal study involving the self-administration of nicotine among adolescent and adult rats to gain understanding of their potential vulnerability to the substance.

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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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Cocaine Locks Rats Into Unrewarding Behaviors

April 2009

Describes research with rats to better understand cocaine’s effect on the neural signaling in the learning circuits of the brain.

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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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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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