Monday, April 23, 2012

Specific Protein Triggers Changes in Brain Reward Center Linked to Cocaine Addiction

New research from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York reveals that repeated exposure to cocaine decreases the activity of a protein necessary for normal functioning of the brain's reward system, thus enhancing the reward for cocaine use, which leads to addiction. Investigators were also able to block the ability of repeated cocaine exposure, to induce addiction. The findings, published online April 22 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, provide the first evidence of how cocaine changes the shape and size of neuron rewards in a mouse model. Repeated exposure to cocaine decreases the expression of a protein necessary for normal functioning of the brain's reward system, thus enhancing the reward for cocaine use and stimulating addiction. Using the protein's light-activated form in real time, in a technique known as optogenetics, investigators were also able to block repeated cocaine exposure from enhancing the brain's reward center from cocaine. more

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