Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tobacco Research Center Study Suggests First Exposure To Nicotine May Change Adolescents' Brain And Behavior

Date:
May 17, 2004
Source:
University Of California, Irvine
Summary:
The adolescent brain appears to be more responsive to nicotine’s rewarding effects than the adult brain, a UC Irvine Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC) animal study has found.

The adolescent brain appears to be more responsive to nicotine’s rewarding effects than the adult brain, a UC Irvine Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC) animal study has found.

In addition, the researchers found that the first exposure to nicotine during adolescence changes subsequent behavioral responses to the drug. These findings may help explain why teen smokers are prone to continue the habit into adulthood.

The study is the first of its kind to show the rapid changes in the brain and behavior of adolescents after just a single administration of nicotine. Study results appeared in the online version of Psychopharmacology.

“These results suggest that the first exposure to nicotine is rewarding and increases sensitivity in adolescents in a way that might contribute to the increased risk for smoking in this age group,” said lead researcher James Belluzzi, adjunct professor of pharmacology and UCI TTURC investigator.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80 percent of adult smokers start smoking as adolescents. While there are multiple reasons why teens try smoking, this study supports earlier findings identifying biological reasons for cigarette addiction. These earlier studies have shown that teens develop symptoms of dependence after minimal tobacco exposure and that those who smoke daily as teens will more likely have difficulty quitting than those who start as adults.

In order to examine the period of the greatest reinforcing effects of nicotine, Belluzzi and colleague Frances Leslie, UCI TTURC director and professor of pharmacology, tested adolescent and adult rats for conditioned place preference. In these tests, drug injections are matched with distinctive environmental cues. Animals are allowed to explore both sides of a test chamber, each with unique sensory cues. Whereas animals initially show no preference for either of two distinct compartments, they will later choose to spend more time in an environment in which they received a drug that has rewarding effects.

In this test, Belluzzi and Leslie monitored behavioral responses and found that nicotine reinforcement did not occur in adult and late adolescent rats. In contrast, rats tested during the earliest adolescent stage showed a significant preference following one brief exposure to nicotine.

Belluzzi and Leslie also found a profound motor excitation, showing a considerable increase in physical activity, in late adolescent rats as compared to adult rats after a single exposure to nicotine. “Late adolescents also appear vulnerable to nicotine,” Belluzzi said.

“These findings provide a strong argument that access to tobacco products should be restricted during adolescence,” Leslie said. “This study adds to a growing body of human and animal data that suggest adolescence may be a developmental time during which the rewarding pathways in the brain are highly responsive to nicotine.”

Improved understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying youth tobacco use and addiction, derived from animal studies such as those of the UCI TTURC, offers promise for improvements in future treatment strategies.

Alex G. Lee and Heather S. Oliff of the UCI Department of Pharmacology assisted with the study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).

About the UCI Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center: The UCI TTURC is one of a national network of seven centers funded jointly by the NIDA and NCI in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The major research focus of the UCI TTURC is to identify key factors that underlie susceptibility to nicotine addiction in adolescents and young adults.

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with approximately 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,300 faculty members. The third-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, Irvine. "Tobacco Research Center Study Suggests First Exposure To Nicotine May Change Adolescents' Brain And Behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040514031038.htm>.
University Of California, Irvine. (2004, May 17). Tobacco Research Center Study Suggests First Exposure To Nicotine May Change Adolescents' Brain And Behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040514031038.htm
University Of California, Irvine. "Tobacco Research Center Study Suggests First Exposure To Nicotine May Change Adolescents' Brain And Behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040514031038.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins