February 2015 Can marijuana use put offspring at heightened risk for opiate addiction, even if the use stops before the offspring are conceived? Results from a recent NIDA-funded study are consistent with other studies suggesting that a parent’s history of drug use, even preconception, may affect a child’s brain function and behavior.
June 2015 A stressed rat will seek a dose of cocaine that is too weak to motivate an unstressed rat. Researchers traced the physiological pathway that links stress and the stress hormone corticosterone to increased dopamine activity and heightened responsiveness to cocaine.
September 2015 A NIDA-supported study has found that a cocaine-addicted person’s chance of managing 1 whole year of abstinence correlates with activity levels in these impaired motivational and decision-making brain areas.
September 2015 In mice, a cocaine-induced imbalance in the activity of two key populations of neurons in the reward system persists for a longer period after repeated exposure to the drug. For long-term users, this change could both weaken the cocaine “high” and strengthen the compulsion to seek the drug.
November 2015 Young adults who had been maltreated as children differed from others who had not been maltreated in the connectivity of nine cortical regions. The differences could compromise the maltreated group’s basic social perceptual skills, ability to maintain a healthy balance between introversion and extroversion, and ability to self-regulate their emotions and behavior.
January 2016 Giving mice a modified version of a naturally occurring gene blocks cocaine’s stimulant effects without affecting the animals’ physiological or metabolic health. The new evidence advances the proposed therapy a step closer to readiness for testing in people.
February 2016 The protein acid-sensing ion channel 1A (ASIC1A) is naturally present in the brain and reduces laboratory animals' attraction to environments in which they have experienced cocaine's effects.
A brain imaging study strongly suggests that regular users of marijuana have smaller orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) volumes. Such a deficit could make it more difficult to change counterproductive behaviors, including drug use.