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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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Why Take a Drug That No Longer Gives Pleasure?

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.

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Why Marijuana Displeases

March 2018
This study demonstrated how THC produces aversive effects in mice and suggests a mechanism to explain why people experience rewarding, aversive, or mixed effects from marijuana.

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Why Females Are More Sensitive to Cocaine

August 2017
New research demonstrates that the hormone estradiol is responsible for females’ increased sensitivity to stimulant drugs.

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Why Do People Lose Control Over Their Cocaine Use?

September 2016
Researchers monitored the activity of two types of neurons in mice: “urge” neurons, which promote feelings of reward and repeating behaviors that have produced rewards, and “control” neurons, which dampen those feelings and inhibit behavior. En Español

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Why Are Our Brains So Big and Powerful?

March 2017
Research suggests that unique patterns of gene regulation have contributed to the differences in brain size and capacity that distinguish humans from other animals.

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Variation in the Gene for the μ-Opioid Receptor May Influence Responses to Methadone

August 2017
A single nucleotide polymorphism in the messenger RNA of the µ-opioid receptor gene was associated with patients’ responses to methadone treatment for opioid dependence.

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THC Hampers Spatial Memory Development in Young Monkeys

September 2015
Adolescent monkeys that were exposed to THC fell progressively further behind THC-free monkeys in their ability to recall the location of an object after a brief delay.

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Study Assesses Functional Deficits Due to HIV and Methamphetamine Use

November 2014
Methamphetamine use and HIV infection raise the risk for functional dependence, or the need for assistance with everyday tasks. People who use methamphetamine and are HIV positive showed the highest levels of functional dependence in most domains of daily life.

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Stress-Induced Enzyme Compounds Methamphetamine Neurotoxicity

January 2014
Ketoprofen, an anti-inflammatory agent commonly prescribed to treat arthritis, reduces neuronal damage in rats that have been exposed to chronic stress and methamphetamine. If this finding of a recent NIDA-supported study extrapolates to humans, anti-inflammatory medications may gain a place in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.

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Stress Hormone Sets the Stage for Relapse to Cocaine Use

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.

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