Exposing rats to stimulants during early life decreases the rewarding effects of cocaine in adulthood, reports a study in the January issue of Nature Neuroscience. The finding suggests that the administration of Ritalin to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might affect their later responses to drugs of abuse.
Previous work had suggested that exposure to stimulants in adulthood increases sensitivity to drugs of abuse, raising the possibility that children treated with Ritalin might be at greater risk of drug abuse later in life. Susan Andersen and colleagues at Harvard Medical School provided evidence against this idea by injecting preadolescent rats with Ritalin, and then examining their sensitivity to cocaine during adulthood. The rats treated as juveniles with Ritalin failed to develop a preference for places associated with cocaine use, a common measure of the reward value of drugs of abuse, as adults. Rats given Ritalin in adulthood also showed less preference for places associated with cocaine than normal animals, but the change was not as great as in the younger group. The authors conclude that both groups showed reduced sensitivity to the rewarding effects of cocaine, and the younger group also showed increased sensitivity to the aversive effects of cocaine, suggesting that adult cocaine use might be less pleasant after childhood exposure to Ritalin.
Dr. Susan L. Andersen
Developmental Psychopharmacology Laboratory
Tel: +1 617 855 3211
(C) Nature Neuroscience press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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