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Orbitofrontal Cortex Is Key to Insight Abilities Lost in Addiction

Science Highlight

September 02, 2014

Ability to anticipate likely outcomes of one’s own actions—or insight—is compromised by drug addiction, and this loss of insight may be an important contributor to relapse. Insight has recently been correlated with medial and orbital prefrontal cortical circuits in human and animal models, and a new study in rats by researchers at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program found that cocaine self-administration reduced the animals’ ability to “insightfully” guide their behavior; it also specifically reduced excitatory transmission in pyramidal neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Normal behavior was temporarily restored in the rats by optogenetically activating those OFC pyramidal cells, suggesting that this circuit is indeed crucial to insight capacity that is compromised by drug abuse. This finding suggests that the OFC may offer a promising neural target for future interventions in addiction.

For a copy of the article abstract, go to: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v17/n8/abs/nn.3763.html.

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