Brain`s `dark side` plays key role in cocaine addiction
Washington: New evidence have shown that an emotion-related brain region called the central amygdala-whose activity promotes feelings of malaise and unhappiness-plays a major role in sustaining cocaine addiction.
In experiments with rats, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found signs that cocaine-induced changes in this brain system contribute to anxiety-like behavior and other unpleasant symptoms of drug withdrawal-symptoms that typically drive an addict to keep using.
When the researchers blocked specific brain receptors called kappa opioid receptors in this key anxiety-mediating brain region, the rats` signs of addiction abated.
"These receptors appear to be a good target for therapy," said Marisa Roberto, associate professor in TSRI`s addiction research group, the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders.
In addition to its clinical implications, the finding represents an alternative to the pleasure-seeking, "positive" motivational circuitry that is traditionally emphasized in addiction.
The study appeared in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
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