Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Abnormal brain structure linked to chronic cocaine abuse

21.06.2011
Research gives insight into why some people develop addiction

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have identified abnormal brain structures in the frontal lobe of cocaine users' brains which are linked to their compulsive cocaine-using behaviour. Their findings were published today, 21 June, in the journal Brain.

Led by Dr Karen Ersche, the Cambridge researchers scanned the brains of 120 people, half of whom had a dependence on cocaine. They found that the cocaine users had widespread loss of grey matter that was directly related to the duration of their cocaine abuse (i.e. the longer they had been using cocaine, the greater the loss of grey matter), and that this reduction in volume was associated with greater compulsivity to take cocaine.

The scientists also found that parts of the brain reward system where cocaine exerts its actions (the basal ganglia) were significantly enlarged in cocaine users; but the size of the enlargement was not related to the duration of cocaine use. The researchers believe this may suggest that alterations in the brain's reward system predate cocaine abuse, possibly rendering these individuals more vulnerable to the effects of the drug.

Dr Ersche, of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (BCNI) at the University of Cambridge, said: "This research gives us important insight into why some people are more vulnerable to drug addiction. Not only is this important for the future development of more effective therapeutic interventions for people who have become dependent on drugs, it will also inform improved strategies to prevent drug addiction in the first place."

Cocaine, one of the most addictive drugs on the illicit drug market, exerts its effects on the brain by changing the way a person thinks and feels. People addicted to cocaine feel an overwhelming, uncontrollable need for the drug, even in the face of aversive consequences.

Dr Ersche added: "People with cocaine dependence describe their out-of-control drug use as a 'compulsion' to use cocaine. Our current work has laid the foundation for a better understanding of cocaine dependence and why this compulsion occurs."

The researchers also showed that changes in other brain structures of chronic cocaine users were linked to debilitating attention problems.

Dr Ersche added: "Our findings are important because they show a clear relationship between the brain, the duration of cocaine use and some of the common attention problems that people with cocaine dependence report. These data show that cocaine dependence is a disorder of the brain, which is very relevant information for the treatment of people who are trying to beat their addiction."

The researchers will next explore whether there is an inherited vulnerability to develop cocaine dependence. Although cocaine is a highly addictive drug, not everyone who uses develops an addiction. They will research whether people with an enlarged brain reward system are more at risk of becoming dependent on cocaine as well as what the effects of recreational cocaine use has on the brain.

The study was funded and sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline and conducted within the GlaxoSmithKline Clinical Unit Cambridge and BCNI (which is co-funded by the MRC and the Wellcome Trust).

For additional information please contact:
Genevieve Maul, Office of Communications, University of Cambridge
Tel: direct, +44 (0) 1223 765542, +44 (0) 1223 332300
Mob: +44 (0) 7774 017464
Email: Genevieve.maul@admin.cam.ac.uk
Notes to editors:
The paper 'Abnormal structure of frontostriatal brain systems is associated with aspects of impulsivity and compulsivity in cocaine dependence' will be published in the 21 June edition of Brain. Authors include: KD Ersche, A Barnes, PS Jones, S Morein-Zamir, TW Robbins, and ET Bullmore.

Genevieve Maul | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cam.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

nachricht The strange double life of Dab2
10.01.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solar Collectors from Ultra-High Performance Concrete Combine Energy Efficiency and Aesthetics

16.01.2017 | Trade Fair News

3D scans for the automotive industry

16.01.2017 | Automotive Engineering

Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs

16.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>