Neuroplasticity in Addiction: Cellular and Transcriptional Perspectives.

Neuroplasticity in addiction: cellular and transcriptional perspectives.

Filed under: Addiction Rehab

Front Mol Neurosci. 2012; 5: 99
Madsen HB, Brown RM, Lawrence AJ

Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disorder which consists of compulsive patterns of drug-seeking and taking that occurs at the expense of other activities. The transition from casual to compulsive drug use and the enduring propensity to relapse is thought to be underpinned by long-lasting neuroadaptations in specific brain circuitry, analogous to those that underlie long-term memory formation. Research spanning the last two decades has made great progress in identifying cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to drug-induced changes in plasticity and behavior. Alterations in synaptic transmission within the mesocorticolimbic and corticostriatal pathways, and changes in the transcriptional potential of cells by epigenetic mechanisms are two important means by which drugs of abuse can induce lasting changes in behavior. In this review we provide a summary of more recent research that has furthered our understanding of drug-induced neuroplastic changes both at the level of the synapse, and on a transcriptional level, and how these changes may relate to the human disease of addiction.
HubMed – addiction


The use of brain imaging to elucidate neural circuit changes in cocaine addiction.

Filed under: Addiction Rehab

Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2012 Sep; 3(1): 115-128
Hanlon CA, Canterberry M

Within substance abuse, neuroimaging has experienced tremendous growth as both a research method and a clinical tool in the last decade. The application of functional imaging methods to cocaine dependent patients and individuals in treatment programs, has revealed that the effects of cocaine are not limited to dopamine-rich subcortical structures, but that the cortical projection areas are also disrupted in cocaine dependent patients. In this review, we will first describe several of the imaging methods that are actively being used to address functional and structural abnormalities in addiction. This will be followed by an overview of the cortical and subcortical brain regions that are most often cited as dysfunctional in cocaine users. We will also introduce functional connectivity analyses currently being used to investigate interactions between these cortical and subcortical areas in cocaine users and abstainers. Finally, this review will address recent research which demonstrates that alterations in the functional connectivity in cocaine users may be associated with structural pathology in these circuits, as demonstrated through diffusion tensor imaging. Through the use of these tools in both a basic science setting and as applied to treatment seeking individuals, we now have a greater understanding of the complex cortical and subcortical networks which contribute to the stages of initial craving, dependence, abstinence, and relapse. Although the ability to use neuroimaging to predict treatment response or identify vulnerable populations is still in its infancy, the next decade holds tremendous promise for using neuroimaging to tailor either behavioral or pharmacologic treatment interventions to the individual.
HubMed – addiction


Methylphenidate Enhances Executive Function and Optimizes Prefrontal Function in Both Health and Cocaine Addiction.

Filed under: Addiction Rehab

Cereb Cortex. 2012 Nov 16;
Moeller SJ, Honorio J, Tomasi D, Parvaz MA, Woicik PA, Volkow ND, Goldstein RZ

Previous studies have suggested dopamine to be involved in error monitoring/processing, possibly through impact on reinforcement learning. The current study tested whether methylphenidate (MPH), an indirect dopamine agonist, modulates brain and behavioral responses to error, and whether such modulation is more pronounced in cocaine-addicted individuals, in whom dopamine neurotransmission is disrupted. After receiving oral MPH (20 mg) or placebo (counterbalanced), 15 healthy human volunteers and 16 cocaine-addicted individuals completed a task of executive function (the Stroop color word) during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). During MPH, despite not showing differences on percent accuracy and reaction time, all subjects committed fewer total errors and slowed down more after committing errors, suggestive of more careful responding. In parallel, during MPH all subjects showed reduced dorsal anterior cingulate cortex response to the fMRI contrast error>correct. In the cocaine subjects only, MPH also reduced error>correct activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (controls instead showed lower error>correct response in this region during placebo). Taken together, MPH modulated dopaminergically innervated prefrontal cortical areas involved in error-related processing, and such modulation was accentuated in the cocaine subjects. These results are consistent with a dopaminergic contribution to error-related processing during a cognitive control task.
HubMed – addiction


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