Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Subordinate monkeys more likely to choose cocaine over food

Having a lower social standing increases the likelihood that a monkey faced with a stressful situation will choose cocaine over food, according to a study at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. More dominant monkeys undergoing the same stressful situation had fewer changes in brain activity in areas of the brain involved in stress and anxiety and were less likely to choose cocaine.

Robert Warren Gould, a graduate student in the laboratory of Michael A. Nader, Ph.D., presented the study results Sunday at Experimental Biology 2008 in San Diego. The presentation was part of the scientific program of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

Male cynomolgus monkeys live in a complex social structure in which the social hierarchy is established by physical aggression and maintained by clear signals. A monkey that has established his dominance over another monkey can elicit a subordinate response with no more than a meaningful look.

The researchers exposed four dominant and four subordinate monkeys to a socially stressful situation in which an individual monkey was taken out of his home cage and placed in an unfamiliar cage surrounded by four unfamiliar animals. The monkey was physically safe, but he could see and hear the animals around him engaging in aggressive behavior.

The study was performed twice, in order to ask two different types of questions. The first concerned brain activity caused by the stressful situation. Before being placed in the unfamiliar cage, each monkey had been injected with radioactively labeled glucose. After 40 minutes, each was given a PET brain imaging examination to see which parts of the brain were most active, as determined by which parts were using the most glucose. This type of brain imaging has been used frequently in humans to determine brain activity during various activities and situations. The scan of the individual monkey’s brain during the stressful situation was compared to earlier scans made when the animal had spent time simply sitting in his own familiar home cage without stress.

The brains of dominant monkeys and subordinate monkeys responded differently in both situations. In the normal situation of sitting in their home cage, subordinate monkeys displayed less activity than did the dominant monkeys in areas of the brain involved in stress and anxiety (the amygdala and hippocampus) and also in areas of the brain involved with emotional and social processing (anterior cingulate cortex).

Gould and Nader say these findings suggest monkeys that have to cope with constant, ongoing social stressors may have developed a lower level of brain activity even at rest. In the abnormal situation of being placed in an unfamiliar cage surrounded by unfamiliar and aggressively behaving monkeys, however, the subordinate monkeys showed pronounced decreased brain activity in areas of the brain involved with stress, anxiety, reward, and emotion, whereas the dominant monkeys showed increases in reward-related areas after the same situation.

In a separate part of the study, researchers looked at the effect of the stressful situation on the likelihood that monkeys would use cocaine. After the 40 minutes in the unfamiliar cage surrounded by other monkeys, each monkey could choose between pressing a lever that they knew delivered cocaine or one that they knew delivered a food reward. The subordinate monkey was more likely to choose cocaine while the dominant monkey was less likely to choose cocaine after this encounter, compared to their respective typical choices during the days preceding this encounter.

These differences in both brain activity and the likelihood of using cocaine between animals of different social rank offer clues to the social context of drug use and addiction in humans, say the researchers. Nader said, “We believe this type of research can be used to identify better treatment strategies, including providing environmental enrichment, that may affect the likelihood of abusing drugs.”

It’s also important, he said, to understand distinct patters of neurobiological activity occurring after acute social stress that may increase the attraction to cocaine in vulnerable individuals. Understanding the brain changes associated with stress also is critical in developing treatment and prevention strategies for disorders such as anxiety and depression that can result from chronic stress.

Karen Richardson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>