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NIDA Notes Articles: Addiction Science

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Stronger Brain Circuit Connectivity May Predict Nicotine Dependence Severity

March 2020
The degree of connectivity of a neuronal network in the rat brain before nicotine exposure can help predict nicotine dependence severity after nicotine exposure as well as reversal of dependence after a period of abstinence.

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Novel Dopamine D3 Receptor Antagonist Reduces Opioid Addiction-Like Behaviors in Rats

January 2020
The dopamine D3 receptor antagonist VK4-116 reduced oxycodone self-administration in rats, as well as drug-seeking behaviors after oxycodone reinstatement following withdrawal. VK4-116 did not interfere with oxycodone’s pain-relieving effects

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α2δ-1–NMDA Receptor Interactions Are Responsible for Increases in Pain Sensitivity Caused by Opioids

December 2019
In animal studies, α2δ-1 and its interactions with NMDA receptors in the spinal cord triggered the pain sensitivity and analgesic tolerance that occurs with chronic morphine treatment. Blocking the α2δ-1–NMDA interaction reduced opioid-induced hyperalgesia and analgesic tolerance.

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Nerve-Cell Growth During Abstinence From Methamphetamine May Promote Reinstatement of Drug Use in Rats

November 2019
Neurogenesis that occurs during abstinence from methamphetamine in a brain region related to memory and learning may promote relapse-like behavior.

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Machine Learning Applied to Brain Imaging Data Predicts Response to Cocaine Use Disorder Treatment

October 2019
This study demonstrated that functional connectivity among a large number of brain regions predicts patients’ chances of achieving abstinence in treatment for cocaine use disorder.

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Rats Prefer Social Interaction to Heroin or Methamphetamine

August 2019
This study showed that rats will forgo heroin and methamphetamine in favor of spending time with another rat. It also highlights the importance of incorporating voluntary choice between drugs and social rewards in drug addiction research.

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THC Exposure in Adolescence Disrupts Brain Maturation in Animals

August 2019
Exposing adolescent rats to THC disrupted normal maturation of a key set of neurons in a brain area that corresponds to the human prefrontal cortex. The disruptions produced structural differences that resemble patterns which have been observed in people with addiction and schizophrenia.

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Nicotine and Cannabis Have Offsetting Effects on Resting Brain Connectivity

June 2019
These findings add to research showing that nicotine and cannabis have interactive effects on brain structure and function. They also suggest that specialized treatment interventions may be appropriate for people who use both drugs.

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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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