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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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Studies Link Family of Genes to Nicotine Addiction

December 2009

Reports study results suggesting that genes for several acetylcholine receptor proteins influence early smoking responses and the likelihood of nicotine dependence.

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Rare Glutamate Receptor Proliferates After Cocaine Withdrawal

December 2009

Reports findings that a rare neuroreceptor may be linked to the intensive cravings cocaine abusers experience during their first weeks of abstinence.

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Extended Cocaine Exposure Impairs Cognitive Function in Rats

November 2009

Reports an animal study presenting evidence that cocaine causes cognitive deficits that can persist well into abstinence.

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Nicotine Boosts Mood, Brain Dopamine Levels

November 2009

Highlights findings from a study showing that nicotine triggers a surge in levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's main reward area for cigarette smokers.

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Methamphetamine Turns Helper Cells Into Destroyers

November 2009

Describes research providing evidence that chronic methamphetamine abuse is associated with increased microglial cell activity in the brain leading to neurodegeneration.

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Drug Cues Outside Awareness Rapidly Trigger Brain's Emotion Centers

October 2009

Describes research showing that cocaine abusers appear to have a rapid neural response to reward cues outside of their awareness, possibly signifying vulnerability to relapse.

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Ethnic Groups Have Contrasting Genetic Risks for Nicotine Addiction

October 2009

Describes research exploring differences and similarities in the genetic profiles of African-Americans and European-Americans who are heavy smokers.

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Sensory Aspects of Smoking May Counter Bad Mood, Craving

October 2009

Describes study findings revealing that the act of smoking, apart from actual or expected nicotine delivery, may soothe a smoker's negative mood.

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Manic Mice Show Heightened Sensitivity to Rewards

October 2009

Reports on an animal study suggesting that the manic stage of bipolar disorder promotes signs of drug abuse vulnerability by enhancing sensitivity to rewards, both natural and drug-related.

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Methamphetamine Abuse Alters Response to Facial Cues

October 2009

Highlights research showing methamphetamine abusers may have more difficulty than nonabusers in responding with empathy and self-control to people who are experiencing intense emotions.

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