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NIDA Notes Articles: Brain

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Cannabis Dependence Is Associated With Changes in Neural Circuitry That May Contribute to Psychopathology

May 2019
People with cannabis dependence have changes in neural circuitry in brain regions related to reward processing, habit formation, and psychopathology. These changes in neural circuitry may provide a useful marker for tracking psychopathology associated with cannabis misuse.

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Research Links Adolescent Substance Use to Adult Brain Volumes

April 2019
This research revealed associations between nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana use during two periods of adolescence and smaller gray matter volume in two brain areas at age 25.

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Transcription Factor E2F3a Mediates Cocaine’s Effects on Gene Expression and Addiction-Related Behaviors

February 2019
This study demonstrated that cocaine increases expression of the protein E2F3a in the brain’s reward system. The changes in E2F3a levels in the nucleus accumbens are tied to addiction-related behaviors and to altered gene expression.

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Disruption of Serotonin Contributes to Cocaine’s Effects

February 2019
This research traced the effects of cocaine-induced disruption of serotonin regulation in the ventral pallidum and orbitofrontal cortex. The findings suggest that these effects may contribute to drug-seeking and cocaine-associated cognitive impairments.

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Cocaine-Induced Increase in an Immune Protein Promotes Addiction Behaviors in Mice

October 2018
Cocaine produces a portion of its rewarding effects by increasing levels of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) in the brain’s reward center. Treatments that prevent G-CSF signaling in the nucleus accumbens might reduce motivation to use cocaine.

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How Cocaine Cues Get Planted in the Brain

September 2018
An epigenetic mechanism underlies the powerful cocaine–environment associations that promote relapse.

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A New Tool for Investigating HIV in the Brain

August 2018
Researchers developed a tool that enables them to closely monitor HIV activity in key brain cells. The tool may accelerate the development of treatments for HIV in the brain.

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Adolescent Marijuana Use Is Linked to Altered Neural Circuitry and Mood Symptoms

August 2018
Some teens' marijuana use has been linked to disrupted communication between two key regions in the brain’s reward circuitry at age 20. Disrupted communication between the regions was associated with poorer psychosocial functioning at age 22.

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A Family-Oriented Intervention May Reduce the Effects of Poverty on Brain Development

January 2018
The parenting-focused Strong African American Families program can ameliorate poverty’s negative effects on limbic brain development.  

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Deep Brain Stimulation Attenuates Rats’ Responses to Heroin

October 2017
High-frequency electrical stimulation of neurons deep in the brain can reduce rats’ relapse-like behavior and motivation to take heroin. The finding strengthens hope that deep brain stimulation might offer a new treatment alternative for opioid addiction, particularly for patients who have not benefited from other treatments.

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