Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Brain stimulation may treat cocaine addiction

Paris - Studies in rats have shown that stimulating a sleepy brain region in cocaine addicts can diminish craving for the drug, a technique that should also work in humans, scientists said on Wednesday.

A team in the United States trained rats to “self-administer”cocaine by pressing two levers.

After several weeks of training, the rats were given a mild foot shock whenever self-administering, causing 70 percent of them to give up the drug, the researchers wrote in the journal Nature.

But a “compulsive” minority kept coming back, just like human addicts.

The team measured brain activity in the prelimbic cortex, a part of the prefrontal cortex involved in impulse control, in both sets of rats.

They found that the activity was decreased in both groups, but markedly more so in the compulsive group.