Nicotine sensitizes the mouse brain to the addictive effects of cocaine, according to recent NIDA-supported research. The results accord with the hypothesis that a person’s initial use of an addictive substance physiologically sensitizes his or her brain to the rewarding and addictive effects of other substances. If the findings carry over to people, then preventing youths from smoking might reduce their vulnerability to cocaine abuse and addiction, and cocaine-dependent individuals might ease their path to recovery by quitting smoking.
March 2008 Reports on research showing that the neurons that deliver dopamine to two regions of the brain's mesolimbic reward system respond differently to opioids, an important finding for drug treatment research.
April 2010 Describes an animal study reporting that peer interaction enhances adolescent rats’ drug reward and discusses the impact of these findings to future research on drug reward in social context.
January 2014 Researchers have shut down laboratory rats’ compulsive cocaine seeking by stimulating an area of the animals’ prefrontal cortex. The finding raises the possibility that stimulating neurons in this brain area may weaken or break cocaine’s grip on the behavior of people who are addicted to the drug.
July 2012 Prenatal drug exposure can have behavioral effects that last well into adulthood, according to two studies of adult monkeys prenatally exposed to cocaine. In the first study, drug-exposed monkeys exhibited less flexibility than controls in adjusting to changing circumstances; in the second study, drug-exposed males exhibited a greater preference than controls for having rewards right away, a sign of impulsivity.
February 2017 New studies show that two novel compounds powerfully suppressed animals’ pain responses, while producing little or none of the respiratory depression and liability for misuse and abuse associated with morphine and other typical opioids.
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.