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Lose The Addiction, Keep The Reward

 
  April, 5 2005 10:14
your information resource in human molecular genetics
 
     
Drug addiction is a hard habit to break, partly because it taps into brain mechanisms that normally promote attraction to healthier rewards. New research reported in the April issue of Nature Neuroscience suggests a potential way to decrease the appeal of drugs without affecting motivation for normal rewarding activities, such as eating.

Damage to the subthalamic nucleus -- a structure buried deep inside the brain -- reduces rats' motivation for cocaine, but increases their motivation for food. Christelle Baunez and colleagues trained a group of rats to press a lever to obtain either a food pellet or a dose of cocaine. They then lesioned the subthalamic nucleus in some of the rats, and found that these animals were less motivated to get a dose of a cocaine than a group without such damage. In contrast, animals with subthalamic lesions worked harder for food pellets than did normal controls.

These results suggest that the subthalamic nucleus may represent a new target for drug addiction treatment. Curiously, modulation of the same area has previously been shown to improve Parkinson disease symptoms as well.

Author contact:

Christelle Baunez (CNRS UMR6155, Université de Provence, Marseille, France)
E-mail: cbaunez@up.univ-mrs.fr

Also published online.

(C) Nature Neuroscience press release.


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