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Moheb Costandi Exposure to nicotine in the womb increases the production of brain cells that stimulate appetite, leading to overconsumption of nicotine, alcohol and fatty foods in later life, according to a new study in rats. Smoking during pregnancy is known to alter fetal brain development and increase the risk of premature birth, low birth weight and miscarriage. Prenatal exposure to nicotine also increases the likelihood of tobacco use and nicotine addiction in later life, but exactly how is unclear. To understand the mechanisms behind this effect, Sarah Leibowitz, a behavioural neurobiologist at the Rockefeller University in New York, and her colleagues injected pregnant rats with small doses of nicotine — which the researchers say are comparable to the amount a pregnant woman would get from smoking one cigarette a day — and then examined the brains and behaviour of the offspring. In a paper published today in Journal of Neuroscience1, they found that nicotine increased the production of specific types of neurons in the amygdala and hypothalamus. These cells produce orexin, enkephalin and melanin-concentrating hormone, neuropeptides that stimulate appetite and increase food intake. Rats exposed to nicotine in the womb had more of these cells and produced more of the neuropeptides than those that were not, and this had long-term consequences on their behaviour. As adolescents, they not only self-administered more nicotine, but also ate more fat-rich food and drank more alcohol. © 2013 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18542 - Posted: 08.21.2013

By ANAHAD O'CONNOR Nationwide, roughly a third of all visits to emergency rooms for injuries are alcohol related. Now a new study suggests that certain beverages may be more likely to be involved than others. The study, carried out over the course of a year at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, found that five beer brands were consumed most often by people who ended up in the emergency room. They were Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light. Three of the brands are malt liquors, which typically contain more alcohol than regular beer. Four malt liquors accounted for nearly half of the beer consumption by emergency room patients, even though they account for less than 3 percent of beer consumption in the general population. Previous studies have found that alcohol frequently plays a role in emergency room admissions, especially those stemming from car accidents, falls, homicides and drownings, said the lead author of the study, David H. Jernigan of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The new study, published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, is the first to look at whether certain brands or types of liquor are overrepresented. Dr. Jernigan said that the breakdown of liquor consumption in the study may be particular to Baltimore, and that he and his colleagues are hoping to study other cities as well. The findings could have policy implications, potentially influencing labeling requirements and marketing for higher-alcohol beers, Dr. Jernigan said. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 18529 - Posted: 08.20.2013

By SABRINA TAVERNISE BALTIMORE — At Everest Greenish Grocery, a brightly lit store on a faded corner of this city, nothing is more popular than a chocolate-flavored little cigar. They are displayed just above the Hershey bars along with their colorful cigarillo cousins — white grape, strawberry, pineapple and Da Bomb Blueberry. And they were completely sold out by 9 one recent evening, snapped up by young people dropping by for a snack or stopping in during a night of bar hopping. “Sorry, no more chocolate,” the night clerk, Qudrad Bari, apologetically told a young woman holding a fruit drink. In 2009, Congress passed a landmark law intended to eliminate an important gateway to smoking for young people by banning virtually all the flavors in cigarettes that advocates said tempted them. Health experts predicted that the change would lead to deep reductions in youth smoking. But the law was silent on flavors in cigars and a number of other tobacco products, instead giving the Food and Drug Administration broad discretion to decide whether to regulate them. Four years later, the agency has yet to assert that authority. And a rainbow of cheap flavored cigars and cigarillos, including some that look like cigarettes, line the shelves of convenience stores and gas stations, often right next to the candy. F.D.A. officials say they intend to regulate cigars and other tobacco products, but they do not say how or when. Smoking opponents contend that the agency’s delay is threatening recent progress in reducing smoking among young people. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18523 - Posted: 08.19.2013

Rachel Seifert Over 40 years ago President Richard Nixon declared war on "public enemy No 1" in the US – drug abuse. Since then, aggressive US anti-drug policies have continued unabated, with over $1 trillion spent on law enforcement and over 45 million people arrested on drugs charges. However, the numbers remain relatively unchanged, with over 20 million users of illegal drugs in the US today. Many voices on the international stage are starting to speak out against not only the failure of these policies but the harm they are causing. Yet the PR machine created around the war on drugs still exerts a huge influence over public opinion. In High Price, Dr Carl Hart joins the growing number of professionals breaking with conventional thinking as he debunks myths and misconceptions associated with illegal drugs. Hart brings two very different but complementary perspectives to the debate: his experience of growing up in a poor African-American community in Miami, and his scientific learning as a neuroscientist studying the effects of drugs. Although the two are not always joined seamlessly, they give him a rare insight into the often deep misunderstanding of illegal drugs, with which he attempts to turn sensationalist, stereotypical views on their head. By telling his own life story, Hart gives us a fascinating insight into the cultural mores of his community, growing up on the streets, and the racism he has faced throughout his life. Now a distinguished scientist, he reflects on his childhood with a new understanding, applying his scientific knowledge to reassess the path that led him to a career in academia, while avoiding the circle of drugs, addiction and prison in which many of his family and friends got caught up. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18462 - Posted: 08.06.2013

An experimental treatment for alcohol dependence works better in individuals who possess specific combinations of genes that regulate the function and binding of serotonin, a brain chemical affected by the treatment, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health. A report of the finding appears online in the American Journal of Psychiatry. “This study is another important step toward personalized treatments for alcohol dependence,” says Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., acting director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which funded the study. “A personalized approach based on a person’s genetic makeup is increasingly being investigated for delivering optimum treatment to the ‘right’ patient.” Ondansetron is a medication currently used to treat nausea and vomiting, often following chemotherapy. It works by blocking serotonin-3 receptors, and has shown potential as a treatment for defined subpopulations with alcohol dependence. In previous studies, Professor Bankole Johnson, D.Sc., M.D., and his team at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, have shown that variations in genes that encode the serotonin transporter, a protein that regulates the concentration of serotonin between nerve cells, can significantly influence drinking intensity. They have also shown that the effectiveness of ondansetron therapy among people with alcohol dependence is influenced by variations of the serotonin transporter gene.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18452 - Posted: 08.03.2013

by Michael Slezak Could the US government be losing support in the global war on drugs? A year after some Latin American countries officially discussed alternatives to prohibition, Uruguay has moved to allow the production, sale and distribution of cannabis. The new legislation, which has made it through one house of parliament in Uruguay, has been described by President José Mujica as a "cutting-edge experiment". If passed by the upper house, the laws will allow registered users to buy up to 40 grams a month from a pharmacist, grow up to six plants at home, or grow up to 99 plants as part of a "cannabis club" made up of between 15 and 45 members. Uruguay has seen increases in crime associated with illegal drugs, particularly cocaine. According to the US Department of State, the drug problem continues there despite "concerted and consistent government efforts to combat these trends", including increased arrests and drug seizures. Mujica says the legislation aims to bring an existing market into the "light of day" and stop it from "corrupting everything". "They are doing it for the same reason the US stopped alcohol prohibition [in the 1930s]," says David Nutt at Imperial College London. "To reduce organised crime and achieve tax revenue for the country." The move comes hot on the heels of two US states legalising the production and distribution of cannabis and New Zealand creating a legal market for new designer drugs. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18451 - Posted: 08.03.2013

By Scicurious I’ve got a terrible sweet tooth. And I am kind of proud of it, in a way. Yeah, I CAN eat that whole chocolate cake. I’d even LIKE it. Honeycomb dipped in chocolate? YES PLEASE. There are very few sweet things that I’d refuse. But should I really be ok with my sweet tooth? Could my sweet tooth correlate with something more sinister…a preference for alcohol? I can blame my sweet tooth on my parents, probably. Studies have shown that variability in preference for sweet things (though, to a greater or lesser extent, we all like sweet things), has a genetic basis. But the sweet tooth doesn’t go alone. In animals (mice especially), a preference for sugar in their water correlates with preference for alcohol as well. When you breed mice to make sure they drink alcohol (this is done to study alcoholism, for example), they also tend to really prefer sweet things, above and beyond mice that aren’t so into martinis. There is a correlation in humans, too. Humans who are more into sweet things are slightly more likely to abuse alcohol. But what is the basis? The authors of this study wanted to look at the reward related systems of humans, and see how sweet taste might compare to alcohol drinking. They took 16 people, put them in an fMRI scanner, and then carefully sprayed their tongues with sugar water. fMRI looks at the blood oxygen levels in various areas of the brain. Higher blood oxygen levels are thought to correlate with increased “activity” of the brain (the idea being that more neurons in use means the area needs more oxygen). An example of this would be that your visual cortex will show increased blood oxygen levels when you are looking at something. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 18431 - Posted: 07.30.2013

Erika Check Hayden The hair of three Incan mummies bears evidence that one of them used large amounts of coca and alcohol in the year before she died, which may have been fed to her as part of a ritual that led to her death. The children, who were found in 1999 near the summit of the Llullaillaco volcano in Argentina, probably died about 500 years ago in a sacrificial ritual known as capacocha. In the study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1, researchers led by archaeologist Timothy Taylor of the University of Bradford, UK, used mass spectrometry to analyse variations in levels of chemical residues in the children’s hair in the months before their deaths. The researchers looked for by-products of the metabolization of coca and alcohol — both important in Andean culture and ritual — and found that all three children ingested both substances in the year before they died. But the eldest — a 13-year-old girl known as the Maiden — took much more of both substances than the younger children. The pattern of consumption suggests that a series of rituals preparing her for her fate began about a year before she was left to die on top of the 6,739-metre-high Llullaillaco. The levels of metabolites in her hair, for instance, increased about a year before her death and then shot up to very high levels about a month and a half before she died — her hair recorded the highest level of coca ever found in Andean archaeological remains, says John Verano, a biological anthropologist at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. © 2013 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18430 - Posted: 07.30.2013

by Brian Mustanski, Ph.D. There is a lot of interest in the question of if too much sex, sexual desire, masturbation, or viewing of pornography is an addiction like to alcohol or cocaine. In fact, an early version of the new DSM-V manual of mental disorders included a “hypersexuality” diagnosis, but this diagnosis was not included in the finalized version. One tool to study addiction is to look at how the brain responds to those substances or cues of those substances. Until recently, this neuroscience approach had not been used to study hypersexuality. A new study published in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology has tested the brain’s response to sexual stimuli among a group of individuals who identified as having problems controlling their use of online pornography. This new study was published by my colleague (and fellow Indiana University Psychology alumni) Dr. Nicole Prause, who is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California- Los Angeles and a Research Scientist at the Mind Research Network. Below are her answers to my questions about this new study. What was the purpose of the study? Some clinicians describe patients who report problems decreasing their sexual behaviors, such as viewing many hours of sexual films online every day, as sexually “addicted” or “hypersexual”. Our study tested whether people who report such problems look like other addicts from their brain responses to sexual images. Studies of drug addictions, such as cocaine, have shown a consistent pattern of brain response to images of the drug of abuse, so we predicted that we should see the same pattern in people who report problems with sex if it was, in fact, an addiction. © Copyright 1991-2013 Sussex Publishers, LLC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18391 - Posted: 07.20.2013

Research from the National Institutes of Health has identified neural circuits in mice that are involved in the ability to learn and alter behaviors. The findings help to explain the brain processes that govern choice and the ability to adapt behavior based on the end results. Researchers think this might provide insight into patterns of compulsive behavior such as alcoholism and other addictions. “Much remains to be understood about exactly how the brain strikes the balance between learning a behavioral response that is consistently rewarded, versus retaining the flexibility to switch to a new, better response,” said Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., acting director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “These findings give new insight into the process and how it can go awry.” The study, published online in Nature Neuroscience, indicates that specific circuits in the forebrain play a critical role in choice and adaptive learning. Like other addictions, alcoholism is a disease in which voluntary control of behavior progressively diminishes and unwanted actions eventually become compulsive. It is thought that the normal brain processes involved in completing everyday activities become redirected toward finding and abusing alcohol. Researchers used a simple choice task in which mice viewed images on a computer touchscreen and learned to touch a specific image with their nose to get a food reward. Using various techniques to visualize and record neural activity, researchers found that as the mice learned to consistently make a choice, the brain’s dorsal striatum was activated. The dorsal striatum is thought to play an important role in motivation, decision-making, and reward.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18359 - Posted: 07.09.2013

By SABRINA TAVERNISE PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Prescription pain pill addiction was originally seen as a man’s problem, a national epidemic that began among workers doing backbreaking labor in the coal mines and factories of Appalachia. But a new analysis of federal data has found that deaths in recent years have been rising far faster among women, quintupling since 1999. More women now die of overdoses from pain pills like OxyContin than from cervical cancer or homicide. And though more men are dying, women are catching up, according to the analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the problem is hitting white women harder than black women, and older women harder than younger ones. In this Ohio River town on the edge of Appalachia, women blamed the changing nature of American society. The rise of the single-parent household has thrust immense responsibility on women, who are not only mothers, but also, in many cases, primary breadwinners. Some who described feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities said they craved the numbness that drugs bring. Others said highs made them feel pretty, strong and productive, a welcome respite from the chaos of their lives. “I thought I was supermom,” said Crystal D. Steele, 42, a recovering addict who said she began to take medicine for back pain she developed working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. “I took one kid to football, the other to baseball. I went to work. I washed the car. I cleaned the house. I didn’t even know I had a problem.” © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 18342 - Posted: 07.03.2013

By DOUGLAS QUENQUA For recovering alcoholics, memories associated with drinking — the smell of a bar, ice clinking in a glass — are among the greatest threats to sobriety. But what if retrieval of those memories could be blocked? Using a drug typically given to organ-transplant patients, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, reduced the incidence of relapse in rats by disrupting memories linked to past drinking. For several weeks the researchers allowed rats to binge on alcohol. Then, after 10 days of abstinence, the rats were exposed to just a drop of alcohol — enough to awaken their memories of drinking. The researchers then used brain scans to identify the neural mechanism responsible for triggering the reactivation of those memories, known as the mTORC1 signaling pathway. Rapamycin, a drug known to disrupt the pathway, was then given to some of the rats. Those that received it were significantly less likely to consume alcohol. “A single administration of this drug prevented relapse for a period of two weeks,” said Dorit Ron, a neuroscientist at the university and an author of the study, which was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Just how long the rats might have stayed dry is hard to say, she added, because “two weeks is when we ended the study.” Rapamycin, which is normally used to suppress transplant patients’ immune systems, is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But more study is required to determine whether it could help people abstain from alcohol, Dr. Ron said, adding that the drug also has significant side effects, including increased susceptibility to infection. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18333 - Posted: 07.02.2013

The risk posed by some popular antidepressants in early pregnancy is not worth taking for women with mild to moderate depression, an expert has warned. Professor Stephen Pilling says evidence suggests SSRIs can double the risk of a child being born with a heart defect. The drugs have been used by up to one in six women of child-bearing age. A manufacturer contacted by the BBC denies any link to major foetal malformations. Panorama has spoken to eight mothers who had babies born with serious heart defects after taking a commonly used SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressant while pregnant. Currently, prescription guidelines for doctors only warn specifically against taking the SSRI, paroxetine, in early pregnancy. But Prof Pilling, expert adviser to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), says that advice is about to be updated. "The available evidence suggests that there is a risk associated with the SSRIs. We make a quite a lot of effort really to discourage women from smoking or drinking even small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy, and yet we're perhaps not yet saying the same about antidepressant medication, which is going to be carrying similar - if not greater - risks," he said. When Anna Wilson, from Ayrshire, had her 20-week scan, doctors realised her son had a serious heart problem and would need immediate heart surgery when he was born. David Wilson David will need further surgery before he starts school Now eight months old, David was hooked up to machines for the first five weeks of his life. He will need more open-heart surgery before he starts school and doctors say he may not live beyond 40. BBC © 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18309 - Posted: 06.25.2013

Helen Shen Wiping out drinking-associated memories could help those with alcohol problems to stay sober, suggests a study in rats. As with other forms of addiction, environmental cues linked to drinking — such as the smell of beer — can trigger the urge to consume alcohol and increase the risk of a relapse into abuse. Over time, these learned associations can be maddeningly difficult to break. Scientists have now identified a potential molecular target in the brains of rats that could one day lead to treatments to help people stay dry. Dorit Ron, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and her team show that strategically blocking the mTORC1 signalling pathway reduces alcoholic relapse by disrupting memories linked to past drinking. This pathway controls the production of several proteins associated with learning and memory. A memory is thought to become vulnerable when it is retrieved, like a folder checked out from a library archive1. Pages can be shuffled or lost before the folder is returned to long-term storage. A number of studies have suggested that disrupting the mTORC1 pathway during this time window can destabilize the process of memory restoration and can potentially help treat post-traumatic stress disorder as well as drug addiction. © 2013 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18303 - Posted: 06.24.2013

By IRINA ALEKSANDER At a party not long ago in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Kaitlin, a 22-year-old senior at Columbia University, was recalling the first time she was offered a drug called Molly, at the elegant Brooklyn home of a cultural figure she admired. “She was, like, 50, and she had been written about in the Talk of the Town,” said Kaitlin, who was wearing black skinny jeans and a tank top. “This woman was very smart and impressive.” At one point, the hostess pulled Kaitlin aside and asked if she had ever tried the drug, which is said to be pure MDMA, the ingredient typically combined with other substances in Ecstasy pills. “She said that it wasn’t cut with anything and that I had nothing to worry about,” said Kaitlin, who declined to give her last name because she is applying for jobs and does not want her association with the drug to scare off potential employers. “And then everyone at the party took it.” Since that first experience, Kaitlin has encountered Molly at a birthday celebration and at a dance party in Williamsburg. “It’s the only drug I can think of that I have to pay for,” she said. “It makes you really happy. It’s very loose. You just get very turned on — not even sexually, but you just feel really upbeat and want to dance or whatever.” Molly is not new, exactly. MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, was patented by Merck pharmaceuticals in 1914 and did not make much news until the 1970s, when psychotherapists began giving it to patients to get them to open up. It arrived at New York nightclubs in the late 1980s, and by the early ’90s it became the preferred drug at raves at Limelight and Shelter, where a weekly party called NASA later served as a backdrop in Larry Clark’s movie “Kids.” © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18295 - Posted: 06.22.2013

By LIZ ALDERMAN PARIS — On a recent day in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, a line of 20 people spilled onto the sidewalk of a trendy new boutique, eager to get a taste of its latest gourmet offerings. A sign in the window promoted piña colada as the store’s flavor of the month. A woman wearing a Chanel jacket said she wanted to try peach. But this was no temple of gastronomy. It was one of scores of electronic cigarette shops that have been springing up by the week in Paris as well as in numerous cities across Europe and the United States. Inside the ClopiNette boutique, shoppers can choose from among more than 60 flavors of nicotine liquid — including Marlboro and Lucky Strike flavors — all in varying strengths and arranged in color-coded rows. (ClopiNette is a play on “clope,” French slang for a cigarette.) “It’s like visiting a Nespresso store,” said Anne Stephan, a lawyer specializing in health issues at a nearby law firm. What’s driving her into the store is a desire shared by many: they want to give up smoking tobacco but don’t want to kick the smoking habit. After smoking 20 cigarettes daily for 25 years and failing to quit, Ms. Stephan said she had cut down to one a day in the three months since she began puffing on a so-called e-cig. Using technology that turns nicotine-infused propylene glycol into an inhalable vapor, e-cigarettes smoke almost like the real thing, without the ashtray odor. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18270 - Posted: 06.13.2013

by Satoshi Kanazawa in The Scientific Fundamentalist Drinking alcohol is evolutionarily novel, so the Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent people drink more alcohol than less intelligent people. The human consumption of alcohol probably originates from frugivory (consumption of fruits). Fermentation of sugars by yeast naturally present in overripe and decaying fruits produces ethanol, known to intoxicate birds and mammals. However, the amount of ethanol alcohol in such fruits ranges from trace to 5%, roughly comparable to light beer. (And you can't really get drunk on light beer.) It is nothing compared to the amount of alcohol present in regular beer (4-6%), wine (12-15%), and distilled spirits (20-95%). Human consumption of alcohol, however, was unintentional, accidental, and haphazard until about 10,000 years ago. The intentional fermentation of fruits and grain to yield ethanol arose only recently in human history. The production of beer, which relies on a large amount of grain, and that of wine, which similarly requires a large amount of grapes, could not have taken place before the advent of agriculture around 8,000 BC and the consequent agricultural surplus. Archeological evidence dates the production of beer and wine to Mesopotamia at about 6,000 BC. The origin of distilled spirits is far more recent, and is traced to Middle East or China at about 700 AD. The word alcohol - al kohl - is Arabic in origin, like many other words that begin with "al," like algebra, algorithm, alchemy, and Al Gore. Human experience with concentrations of ethanol higher than 5% that is attained by decaying fruits is therefore very recent. © Copyright 2002-2013 Sussex Directories, Inc.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 1: Biological Psychology: Scope and Outlook
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 1: An Introduction to Brain and Behavior
Link ID: 18258 - Posted: 06.12.2013

By Scicurious When I am stressed (and I’m stressed a lot of the time, as I bet a lot of you are as well), I turn to coffee. Not just to keep me going through the time when I need to get things done, but also for relaxation. For me, the smell and taste of coffee brings me thoughts of relaxing conversations with friends and other fun times. But what if the memories weren’t all the relaxing the caffeine was doing for me? What if the chronic caffeine consumption was keeping my stressful life at bay? It’s time to look at adenosine 2A receptors in the hippocampus. Don’t worry, the coffee will be back. First let’s talk about stress. Specifically, childhood stress. In small doses, stress exposure can actually be good for you, but in large, or prolonged, doses, it’s definitely not. There are effects immediately after stress, as well as long term ones. when you suffer strong stressors in development, you can end up with changes all the way into adulthood, from cognitive deficits to predisposition to psychiatric disorders. Why is stress in development so important? During development, our brains are developing too, particularly our hippocampus. While the hippocampus is best known for its role in memory and spatial navigation, it’s also extremely important in emotional responses. Neuronal growth in the hippocampus can come from enriched environments or chronic antidepressants, and death of those neurons can come from chronic stress. Chronic stress also disrupts the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (the HPA axis) And that’s just in adults! During development, animals are very susceptible to stress, and the hippocampus is still developing its connections. And we’re still figuring out what changes occur during early life stress and how they relate to behaviors in adulthood. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18257 - Posted: 06.11.2013

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS For thousands of years, coffee has been one of the two or three most popular beverages on earth. But it’s only recently that scientists are figuring out that the drink has notable health benefits. In one large-scale epidemiological study from last year, researchers primarily at the National Cancer Institute parsed health information from more than 400,000 volunteers, ages 50 to 71, who were free of major diseases at the study’s start in 1995. By 2008, more than 50,000 of the participants had died. But men who reported drinking two or three cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to have died than those who didn’t drink coffee, while women drinking the same amount had 13 percent less risk of dying during the study. It’s not clear exactly what coffee had to do with their longevity, but the correlation is striking. Other recent studies have linked moderate coffee drinking — the equivalent of three or four 5-ounce cups of coffee a day or a single venti-size Starbucks — with more specific advantages: a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, basal cell carcinoma (the most common skin cancer), prostate cancer, oral cancer and breast cancer recurrence. Perhaps most consequential, animal experiments show that caffeine may reshape the biochemical environment inside our brains in ways that could stave off dementia. In a 2012 experiment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, mice were briefly starved of oxygen, causing them to lose the ability to form memories. Half of the mice received a dose of caffeine that was the equivalent of several cups of coffee. After they were reoxygenated, the caffeinated mice regained their ability to form new memories 33 percent faster than the uncaffeinated. Close examination of the animals’ brain tissue showed that the caffeine disrupted the action of adenosine, a substance inside cells that usually provides energy, but can become destructive if it leaks out when the cells are injured or under stress. The escaped adenosine can jump-start a biochemical cascade leading to inflammation, which can disrupt the function of neurons, and potentially contribute to neurodegeneration or, in other words, dementia. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18239 - Posted: 06.06.2013

By Stuart McMillen A classic experiment into drug addiction science. Would rats choose to take drugs if given a stimulating environment and social company?

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18214 - Posted: 06.01.2013