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By JOHN TIERNEY Long before he brought people into his laboratory at Columbia University to smoke crack cocaine, Carl Hart saw its effects firsthand. Growing up in poverty, he watched relatives become crack addicts, living in squalor and stealing from their mothers. Childhood friends ended up in prisons and morgues. Carl Hart, an associate professor of psychology at Columbia, arranged experiments in which drug addicts were offered a choice between a dose of the drug or cash or vouchers. When the dose was smaller, addicts often chose cash or vouchers instead. Those addicts seemed enslaved by crack, like the laboratory rats that couldn’t stop pressing the lever for cocaine even as they were starving to death. The cocaine was providing such powerful dopamine stimulation to the brain’s reward center that the addicts couldn’t resist taking another hit. At least, that was how it looked to Dr. Hart when he started his research career in the 1990s. Like other scientists, he hoped to find a neurological cure to addiction, some mechanism for blocking that dopamine activity in the brain so that people wouldn’t succumb to the otherwise irresistible craving for cocaine, heroin and other powerfully addictive drugs. But then, when he began studying addicts, he saw that drugs weren’t so irresistible after all. “Eighty to 90 percent of people who use crack and methamphetamine don’t get addicted,” said Dr. Hart, an associate professor of psychology. “And the small number who do become addicted are nothing like the popular caricatures.” © 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: 18655 - Posted: 09.17.2013

By Scicurious Effective treatments for drug addiction have been hard to come by. There’s behavioral interventions, methadone maintenance for heroin users, nicotine patches for smokers, antabuse for acoholics, but while all of these are effective in a minority of users, they aren’t effective in all. Many require repeat behaviors that are difficult for addicts. As examples: getting to the methadone center every day can be difficult if you have bad transportation. Alcoholics often need to go to AA meetings several times a week if not several times a day. Antabuse make you feel like crap when you drink…and all you have to do is NOT take it. Nicotine patches don’t tend to scratch the smoking itch in the same way. In the case of cocaine, where is there no drug intervention option at all, when you have someone who is in serious danger of overdose, you need something to take away the effects of the cocaine. Something to work immediately. Enter the idea of a vaccine against cocaine. For those used to thinking about vaccines as things that fight chicken pox and whooping cough, the idea of a vaccine against a drug can seem a little foreign. But it’s a concept that’s been in development for some time. Not so much in the context of vaccinating against potential cocaine use, but as a way to help people get off the drug. But the question still remains: will it work? The idea is to use a vaccine made of a drug that is very close to cocaine (norcocaine), combined with an inactivated virus. The presence of the virus causes the body’s immune system to try and fight it off, creating antibodies to different parts of the molecule, both the cocaine part and the virus part. The antibodies serve as a signal for other immune cells to come along and gobble up the cocaine. After the original vaccine is gone, the antibodies stay circulating in your blood, ready to attack is they see the cocaine signal again. © 2013 Scientific American

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: 18628 - Posted: 09.10.2013

by Andy Coghlan Smokers keen to quit are just as likely to be successful if they use electronic cigarettes as they are with nicotine patches, the "gold standard" quitting aid. The findings come ahead of a critical debate in the European Parliament on 8 October to decide whether e-cigarettes should be regulated as medicinal products, which would drastically reduce their availability. When smokers attempt to quit, it is the cutting out of nicotine – the addictive component of tobacco – that triggers withdrawal symptoms. E-cigarettes, which physically resemble real cigarettes, provide a compensatory nicotine hit, without the toxic brew of carcinogenic compounds. Previous studies conducted on e-cigarettes alone have shown that they help smokers quit, but no one knew if they performed as well as nicotine patches. To find out, the New Zealand government funded a head-to-head comparison study. Chris Bullen and his colleagues at the National Institute for Health Innovation in Auckland gave e-cigarettes to 289 smokers who were trying to quit. A separate group of 295 people were given nicotine patches, while 73 received dummy nicotine-free e-cigarettes. Six months later, the team asked participants if their attempts to quit had been a success. Those who had used the nicotine e-cigarettes had the highest success rate: 7.3 per cent had managed to stay away from tobacco. Of the nicotine patch users, 5.8 per cent had quit. And of those taking the placebo around 4 per cent were successful. © 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: 18618 - Posted: 09.09.2013

By STUART ELLIOTT Electronic cigarettes may be a creation of the early 21st century, but critics of the devices say manufacturers are increasingly borrowing marketing tactics that are more reminiscent of the heady days of tobacco in the mid-1900s. With American smokers buying e-cigarettes at a record pace — annual sales are expected to reach $1.7 billion by year’s end — e-cigarette makers are opening their wallets wide, spending growing sums on television commercials with celebrities, catchy slogans and sports sponsorships. Those tactics can no longer be used to sell tobacco cigarettes, but are readily available to the industry because it is not covered by the laws or regulations that affect the tobacco cigarette industry. The e-cigarette industry is also spending lavishly on marketing methods that are also still available to their tobacco brethren, including promotions, events, sample giveaways and print ads. The Blu eCigs brand — which recently added the actress Jenny McCarthy to its roster of star endorsers, joining the actor Stephen Dorff — spent $12.4 million on ads in major media for the first quarter of this year compared with $992,000 in the same period a year ago, according to the Kantar Media unit of WPP. And ad spending in a category that Kantar Media calls smoking materials and accessories, which includes products like pipes and lighters in addition to e-cigarettes, has skyrocketed: from $2.7 million in 2010 to $7.2 million in 2011 to $20.8 million last year. In the first quarter of 2013, Kantar Media reported, category ad spending soared again, reaching $15.7 million, compared with $2 million in the same period a year ago. In fact, that $15.7 million total exceeded the spending for ads in major media for tobacco cigarettes, at $13.9 million, according to Kantar Media. © 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: 18598 - Posted: 09.03.2013

By Maia Szalavitz That little zing you get when someone “likes” your picture or sings your praises on Facebook? That’s the reward center in your brain getting a boost. And that response can predict how much time and energy you put into the social media site, according to new research. In one of the first studies to explore the effects of social media on the brain, scientists led by Dar Meshi, a postdoctoral researcher at the Freie Universität in Berlin, imaged the brains of 31 Facebook users while they viewed pictures of either themselves or others that were accompanied by positive captions. The research was published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. “We found that we could predict the intensity of people’s Facebook use outside the scanner by looking at their brain’s response to positive social feedback inside the scanner,” says Meshi. Specifically, a region called the nucleus accumbens, which processes rewarding feelings about food, sex, money and social acceptance became more active in response to praise for oneself compared to praise of others. And that activation was associated with more time on the social media site. Social affirmation tends to be one of life’s great joys, whether it occurs online or off, so it’s not surprising that it would light up this area. Few people are immune to the lures of flattery, after all. But do these results suggest that the “likes” on Facebook can become addictive? While all addictive experiences activate the region, such activation alone isn’t sufficient to establish an addiction. © 2013 Time Inc

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 18594 - Posted: 09.02.2013

As the debate about legalizing marijuana heats up in Canada, a new study suggests the drug might be riskier for teens to consume than had been previously thought. Researchers from the Université de Montréal and New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital conducted a review of 120 studies examining cannabis and teenage brain development, and concluded there is strong evidence early cannabis use puts some teens at risk of developing addiction and mental health problems as adults. Dr. Didier Jutras-Aswad, with the Université de Montréal's psychiatry department, is a co-author of the review, which was published this month in the journal Neuroparmacology. He says that in adolescence, the brain is still fine-tuning how different areas, such as learning and memory, interact and it appears that marijuana use alters that process. "When you disrupt this, actually, development, during adolescence, notably through cannabis use, you can have very pervasive, very negative effects in the long-term, including on mental health and addiction risk," he told CBC News. Some studies have also found links between early cannabis use and schizophrenia, but Jutras-Aswad says it seems clear there is a wide risk profile that includes genetics and behavioural traits in addition to age. "For me, the question is not about whether cannabis is good or bad, but who is more likely to suffer from problems in cannabis, because we know for most people that will not happen," he said. © CBC 2013

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: 18579 - Posted: 08.29.2013

By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News Taking cocaine can change the structure of the brain within hours in what could be the first steps of drug addiction, according to US researchers. Animal tests, reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed new structures linked to learning and memory began to grow soon after the drug was taken. Mice with the most brain changes showed a greater preference for cocaine. Experts described it as the brain "learning addiction". The team at University of California, Berkeley and UC San Francisco looked for tiny protrusions from brain cells called dendritic spines. They are heavily implicated in memory formation. The place or environment that drugs are taken plays an important role in addiction. In the experiments, the mice were allowed to explore freely two very different chambers - each with a different smell and surface texture. Once they had picked a favourite they were injected with cocaine in the other chamber. A type of laser microscopy was used to look inside the brains of living mice to hunt for the dendritic spines. More new spines were produced when the mice were injected with cocaine than with water, suggesting new memories being formed around drug use. The difference could be detected two hours after the first dose. BBC © 2013

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: 18561 - Posted: 08.26.2013

I HAVE been struggling with an addiction to opiates for the past three years. It started with prescription painkillers and progressed to full-blown heroin dependence. In an attempt to kick the habit I signed up for a traditional 30-step inpatient treatment that involved individual and group counselling, and which cost about $30,000. That was a year ago, and it didn't work. I felt unable to stay away from heroin. Now I am at a small clinic in Baja California, Mexico, where I am taking part in the first trial to investigate the effectiveness of treating heroin addiction with a single dose of ibogaine – a psychoactive substance derived from the rainforest shrub Tabernanthe iboga. "Ibogaine can take you many places, causing you to experience a range of emotions, memories and visions. If any of these images become too frightening, just open your eyes." I am reassured by the words of the director of the clinic, Jeff Israel, but the drug's history is not all rosy. Several clinical trials have shown that low doses of ibogaine taken over the course of a few weeks can greatly reduce cravings for heroin and other drugs. There was extensive research on it in the 1990s, with good evidence of safety in animals and a handful of studies in humans. The US National Institute on Drug Abuse invested over $1 million, but then abandoned the project in 1995. A study had shown that at high doses, ibogaine caused some brain cell degeneration in rats. Lower doses similar to those used in human addiction trials showed no such effect, however. © 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: 18552 - Posted: 08.24.2013

By JULIE TURKEWITZ Samantha Dittmeier was the youngest of Karen Allar’s four children. “She was very loving, very compassionate,” said Ms. Allar, 51, an employment counselor who lives on Long Island. “Unfortunately, the addiction got to her.” Ms. Dittmeier, 23, died of a heroin overdose in January, leaving behind her 3-year-old son, Aiden. Ms. Allar is haunted, she said, not just by her daughter’s tumble into addiction, but also by the circumstances of her death. She wonders if her life might have been saved if the emergency workers who treated her had been armed with naloxone, a powerful drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose. “You start to get that sick feeling again,” Ms. Allar said, recounting a frantic race to the hospital just before Ms. Dittmeier’s death. “I’m back at work. I’m trying to think positive about such a horrible situation.” On Long Island and across New York State, drug overdoses are taking an increasing toll. The most common killers are opioids, a class of painkillers that includes prescription drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, as well as illegal narcotics like heroin. In Suffolk and Nassau Counties, the two that make up Long Island, 338 people died of opioid overdoses in 2012, up from 275 in 2008, according to county records. Statewide, opioid overdoses killed 2,051 people in 2011, more than twice the number that they killed in 2004. The spate of deaths is spurred, in part, by the easy access to prescription drugs. As a result, the state has begun several efforts to stem access to prescription drugs. A new law aims to stop addicts from gaining access to multiple rounds of medication by requiring doctors to consult an Internet database that tracks prescriptions. © 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: 18548 - Posted: 08.22.2013

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