Health Manipulating brain pathways could reduce addiction

Manipulating brain pathways could reduce addiction

Newly discovered brain pathways linked to addiction can be manipulated to reduce drug-seeking behaviour and the motivation for alcohol, say researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

The researchers, led by Dr Asheeta Prasad from UNSW’s School of Psychology, discovered new pathways in an area of the brain responsible for regulating motivation, behaviour, and emotions.

“Current drug therapies are generally poor because we still don’t completely understand how the brain’s neural circuits contribute to different forms of relapse,” said Dr Prasad.

“Mapping these circuits is crucial if we are to move forward in treating drug and alcohol addiction.”

Researchers found that two distinct pathways are necessary for different forms of alcohol-related relapse.

When these brain pathways were switched off, drug seeking behaviour and motivation for alcohol was reduced.

While the discovery was made in rats, it opens up new possibilities for developing treatments for drug and alcohol addiction in humans, including deep brain stimulation.

“Deep brain stimulation is currently used to manage Parkinson’s disease, but has not yet been tested in the treatment of addiction,” Dr Prasad said.

“It is a certainly a potential future treatment for relapsing disorders such as drug addiction and obesity.”

For more details of the research team’s findings click here. Story credit: UNSW newsroom.

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