Brain circuitry that drives drug-seeking compulsion identified

February 6, 2008

In experiments with rats, researchers have identified the change in brain circuitry that drives development of a compulsion to seek drugs, even when that compulsion is self-destructive. The researchers demonstrated the function of the circuitry by selectively switching off drug-seeking in the animals. They said their findings show the key role of the brain region, known as the striatum, which is a region activated by reward.

Barry Everitt and David Belin published their findings in the February 7, 2008, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

The researchers drew on previous studies indicating that when drug-seeking transforms from a goal-directed behavior to a compulsion, control over that behavior shifts from the ventral to dorsal region of the striatum.
In their experiments, the researchers first trained rats to press a lever to obtain cocaine, which also activated a signal light. The researchers manipulated the schedule of cocaine-receiving and lever-pressing so that it would induce compulsive lever-pressing in the rats to obtain cocaine.

The researchers found that when they used surgery and drugs to sever the functional connection between the two striatal regions, the result was decreased drug-seeking behavior in rats, compared with rats in which the disconnection was not made.

In a second set of experiments, the researchers showed that the “disconnected” rats did not show reduced ability to acquire such training responses. Both normal and disconnected rats could learn to pull a chain to receive a sugar-water reward so long as the activity was continuously reinforced.

The researchers concluded that “The results of the present study demonstrate that intrastriatal connectivity is a key aspect of the functional organization of the striatum and also a critically important component of the complex neural mechanisms involved in the development of drug addiction.”

Source: Cell Press

Explore further: Study with rats suggests drinking alcohol increases risk of addiction to cocaine

Related Stories

Study with rats suggests drinking alcohol increases risk of addiction to cocaine

November 2, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers working at Columbia University has found a possible link between prior use of alcohol and an increased risk of cocaine addiction. In their paper published on the open access site Science ...

Lending late neurons a helping hand

November 7, 2017
During the foetal stage, millions of neurons are born in the walls of the ventricles of the brain before migrating to their final location in the cerebral cortex. If this migration is disrupted, the new-born baby may suffer ...

Scientists identify key brain circuits that control compulsive drinking in rats

July 22, 2013
A research team led by scientists from the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco has identified circuitry in the brain that drives compulsive drinking in rats, and likely plays ...

Scientists show deep brain stimulation blocks heroin relapse in rats

February 1, 2017
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found that deep brain stimulation (DBS) can greatly reduce the compulsion to use heroin in standard rat models of addiction.

Scientists find that nicotine use increases compulsive alcohol consumption

April 14, 2015
Why do smokers have a five to ten times greater risk of developing alcohol dependence than nonsmokers? Do smokers have a greater tendency toward addiction in general or does nicotine somehow reinforce alcohol consumption?

Researchers identify mechanisms that link compulsive binge eating with hypertension

March 31, 2015
An estimated eight million adults in the U.S. suffer from binge eating disorder. Now, researchers have shown that compulsive binging on foods that are high in fat and sugar can trigger specific molecular changes that can ...

Recommended for you

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.