Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Find 'Switch' For Brain's Pleasure Pathway

Date:
March 22, 2006
Source:
University of Pittsburgh
Summary:
In the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Pitt professor of neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychology Anthony Grace and Pitt neuroscience research associate Daniel Lodge suggest a new mechanism for how the brain's reward system works.

Amid reports that a drug used to treat Parkinson's disease has caused some patients to become addicted to gambling and sex, University of Pittsburgh researchers have published a study that sheds light on what may have gone wrong.

In the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Pitt professor of neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychology Anthony Grace and Pitt neuroscience research associate Daniel Lodge suggest a new mechanism for how the brain's reward system works.

The main actor in the reward system is a chemical called dopamine. When you smell, touch, hear, see, or taste a pleasurable stimulus, the dopamine neurons in your brain start firing in bursts. So-called "burst firing" is how the brain signals reward and modulates goal-directed behavior. But just how the stimulus you perceive causes neurons to switch into or out of this mode has been a mystery.

Using anesthetized rats, Lodge and Grace found that one area in the brain stem, known as the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus, is critical to normal dopamine function.

"We've found, for the first time, the brain area that acts as the gate, telling neurons either to go into this communication mode or to stop communicating," says Grace. "All the other parts of the brain that talk to the dopamine neurons can only do it when this area puts them into the communication mode."

As a result, disruption in that area may play a major role in dopamine-related brain function, both in normal behaviors and psychiatric disorders.

The brain area identified by the Pitt researchers is regulated by the "planning" part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex (PFC), thereby providing a powerful indirect means for the PFC to affect the activity of dopamine neurons. Such a link could explain how changes in the PFC, seen in disorders like schizophrenia and drug addiction, disrupt the signaling of dopamine neurons.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh. "Researchers Find 'Switch' For Brain's Pleasure Pathway." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060322112625.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh. (2006, March 22). Researchers Find 'Switch' For Brain's Pleasure Pathway. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060322112625.htm
University of Pittsburgh. "Researchers Find 'Switch' For Brain's Pleasure Pathway." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060322112625.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. 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