Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers develop technique to visualize 'your brain on drugs'

Date:
April 27, 2010
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Summary:
Researchers at the US Department of Energy have developed an imaging protocol that allows them to visualize the activity of the brain's reward circuitry in both normal individuals and those addicted to drugs.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed an imaging protocol that allows them to visualize the activity of the brain's reward circuitry in both normal individuals and those addicted to drugs. The technique could lead to better insight into why people take recreational drugs as well as help determine which treatment strategies might be most effective.

Related Articles


Drug addiction is a complex process that involves numerous biological and environmental factors, but a central element is how the drugs affect the activity of dopamine, the chemical that regulates pleasure and reward in the brain.

To get a real-time sense of dopamine activity, Joanna Fowler and her colleague Gene-Jack Wang at Brookhaven, along with Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, combined positron emission tomography (PET), a medical imaging technology useful for identifying brain diseases, with special radioactive tracers that bind to dopamine receptors. The PET scan highlights the movement of the tracers in the brain, and can be used to reconstruct real-time 3D images of the dopamine system in action.

The scientists tested this procedure on several drug-addicted volunteers as well as age-matched healthy control subjects and found that people with addictions in general have 15-20 percent fewer dopamine receptors than normal and thus cannot bind to a lot of the dopamine released in response to the drugs or natural reinforcers like food.

"These addicted individuals all had a blunted dopamine response," noted Fowler, a senior scientist in Brookhaven's medical department. "This reinforces the idea that drug addicts experience diminished feelings of pleasure, which drives their continual drug use."

Fowler added that the study looked at multiple recreational drugs and found similar results. "So, while various drugs operate by unique mechanisms, they all share a commonality in that the dopamine receptors in the brains of addicted individuals show an under-stimulated reward system."

In an interesting correlation, Fowler noted that Gene-Jack Wang also used the dopamine PET scans on obese individuals and found highly similar patterns of low dopamine receptors-validating that at least in some cases, obesity can also be considered a disease of addiction.

A potential valuable application of observing dopamine activity in real-time, Fowler noted, involves not looking at addicted individuals while they use drugs, but rather when they don't.

"We can examine individuals as they use different coping strategies to try to suppress their desires for drugs or food," she said, "and see in the scans which approach work best."

"We still have a lot of research to do before we fully understand why people take drugs," Fowler continued, "but with this new PET scan application, we might help more people stop."

The highlights of this study were recently presented in Fowler's talk, "Imaging Brain Chemistry in Diseases of Addiction," at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's annual meeting, which took place April 26 in Anaheim, CA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Researchers develop technique to visualize 'your brain on drugs'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426200633.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (2010, April 27). Researchers develop technique to visualize 'your brain on drugs'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426200633.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Researchers develop technique to visualize 'your brain on drugs'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426200633.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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