Scientists have uncovered a neuron stimulation practice that could reduce the drive to use cocaine in those gripped by addiction to the stimulant.
Scientists have keyed on two groups of neurons that they describe as “sluggish” in their studies on cocaine-addicted lab rats. By stimulating these groups of neurons, the scientists have eased the rats’ drive to seek out a cocaine fix.
The prelimbic cortex is the area of the brain where impulse control and reward-drive are controlled. This area is where a person’s strength or weakness in self-control is located. Scientists didn’t know if the prelimbic cortex in cocaine-addicted rats was weak to begin with or if the cocaine played a roll in breaking down the self-control mechanism. Scientists rigged the test situation so that the cocaine-addicted rats would press a lever to receive a dose of cocaine. Eventually, the rats were given an electric shock one-third of the time they pushed the lever. A majority of them stopped pushing the lever all-together, but 30 percent continued despite the risk of shock.
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