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NIDA Notes Articles: Addiction Science

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Long-Term Cocaine Self-Administration Depresses Brain Activity

December 2008
Discusses research exploring how widespread the reduction of neural activity is in the brain with chronic exposure to cocaine.

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Low Dopamine Receptor Availability May Promote Cocaine Addiction

April 2009
Describes findings from an animal study showing that cocaine lowers availability of dopamine receptors in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that includes portions of the reward system.

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Lower Levels of Dopamine-Regulating Receptors Among Novelty Seekers

October 2010
Describes research results reporting that people who favor novelty have lower-than-average availability of a receptor that inhibits dopamine's release from neurons, which likely stimulates the activity of reward circuits.

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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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Methamphetamine Abusers Show Increased Distractibility

April 2009
Highlights findings from a study of former methamphetamine abusers showing evidence of impairment in areas of the brain known to influence cognition, emotion, and decision making.

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Methamphetamine Alters Brain Structures, Impairs Mental Flexibility

March 2014
Methamphetamine alters brain structures involved in decision-making and impairs the ability to suppress habitual behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive. The two effects were correlated, indicating that the structural change underlies the decline in mental flexibility.

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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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Mice With Genetic Alteration Eschew Cocaine

June 2008
Reports on a study involving researchers who successfully desensitized mice to cocaine by genetically altering their dopamine transporters.

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Molecular Alterations of DNA Contribute to Persistence of Memory

November 2011
In a new series of studies tracing the molecular events that occur in the brain as memories are formed and preserved, researchers find that certain epigenetic changes may promote vulnerability to relapse.

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N-Acetylcysteine Postsynaptic Effect Limits Efficacy

January 2013
Clinical trials of N-acetylcysteine to help people recovering from drug abuse avoid relapse have demonstrated only moderate efficacy. New NIDA-supported research shows that while a low dose of the medication activates receptors associated with lowered drug-seeking behavior, a higher dose appears to activate receptors associated with increased drug-seeking behavior. The result suggests that a medication or combination of medications that stimulate the receptor GluR2/3 and block mGluR5 may work better than N-acetylcysteine alone.

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