Drugs and the Brain

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Person reviewing brain scans on her computer
Photo by © AdobeStock/Artem
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Brain image showing detailed diagrams of neural tracts
Washington University - University of Minnesota Human Connectome Project consortium (http://humanconnectome.org/).
High-resolution, non-invasive imaging techniques produce detailed diagrams of neural tracts, enabling new analyses of how brain regions are connected.

The human brain is the most complex organ in the body—you need it to drive a car, to enjoy a meal, to breathe, to create an artistic masterpiece, and to enjoy everyday activities. In brief, the brain regulates your body’s basic functions; enables you to interpret and respond to everything you experience; and shapes your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Drugs, however, can alter important brain areas that are necessary for life-sustaining functions and can drive the compulsive drug use that marks addiction. As a result, NIDA supports a large body of neuroscience research that can provide clues about how better to manage and prevent substance use disorders.

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Research

Effects of Specific Drugs on the Brain

Related Resources

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Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies in human volunteers conducted to answer specific health questions. Learn about the NIH-sponsored clinical trials available to you.