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NIDA Notes Articles: Addiction Science

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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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Nicotine Alters the Developing Rat Brain

February 2007
Describes animal studies that suggested exposure to the drug during gestation or adolescence may cause lasting alterations in reward and motivation circuits.

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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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Neuroscience Blueprint Promotes Efficiency, Synergy

June 2008

Describes a knowledge- and resource-sharing system for NIH-funded neuroscientists to access to data, advanced research tools, and technical assistance.

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Neuropeptide Promotes Drug-Seeking and Craving in Rats

October 2007
Reports on two studies indicating that orexin, a neuropeptide that stimulates eating and regulates wakefulness, also fosters animals' drug seeking and craving responses to drugs.

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N-Acetylcysteine Postsynaptic Effect Limits Efficacy

January 2013

Clinical trials of N-acetylcysteine to help people recovering from drug abuse avoid relapse have demonstrated only moderate efficacy. New NIDA-supported research shows that while a low dose of the medication activates receptors associated with lowered drug-seeking behavior, a higher dose appears to activate receptors associated with increased drug-seeking behavior. The result suggests that a medication or combination of medications that stimulate the receptor GluR2/3 and block mGluR5 may work better than N-acetylcysteine alone.

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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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