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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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Immune System Plays Unexpected Role in Brain Development

September 2008
Describes research findings demonstrating that the immune system participates in the shaping of brain circuits during a child's development, a finding that may shed light on the origins of neurodegenerative diseases.

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Optical Technologies Expand Vistas Into the Brain

September 2008
Describes new tools under development, including one to visualize cells deep in the brain and another one that remotely activates brain cells.

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Brain Proteins Differ in Cocaine-Overdose Victims

December 2008
Describes research findings showing differences in protein concentrations in the brain pleasure centers of people who died from cocaine overdose as compared with those who did not abuse the drug.

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Imaging Studies Elucidate Neurobiology of Cigarette Craving

December 2008
Reports on three separate imaging studies illuminating the neurobiology of cigarette craving.

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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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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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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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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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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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Genetic Overlap Between Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder

April 2010
Describes a literature analysis reporting on the prevalence of people with bipolar disorder who also have a substance use disorder and discusses the genetic link that may contribute to this comorbidity.

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