Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Investigating the pleasure centers of the brain: How reward signals are transmitted

Date:
May 27, 2014
Source:
Canadian Association for Neuroscience
Summary:
Research helps to better understand how reward signals, such as those produced by addictive drugs, travel through the brain and modify brain circuits. Researchers obtained results using optogenetics, which use light-responsive proteins to study the activation of neural circuits in distinct locations. The study has revealed circuits that are responsible for habitual behavior, which could be suitable targets for pharmacotherapies designed to treat drug addiction.

New research presented by Dr. Jonathan Britt, from McGill University, helps to better understand how reward signals, such as those produced by addictive drugs, travel through the brain and modify brain circuits. Dr. Britt obtained these results using optogenetics, which use light-responsive proteins to study the activation of neural circuits in distinct locations, allowing the researcher to precisely dissect the roles of different neural circuits in the brain. Dr. Britt's studies have helped reveal circuits that are responsible for habitual behavior, which could be suitable targets for pharmacotherapies designed to treat drug addiction.

These results were presented at the 2014 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience -- Association Canadienne des Neurosciences (CAN-ACN) which takes place May 25 -- 28th 2014.

One of the most immediate effects of drugs on the brain is an increase in the levels of dopamine, particularly in a region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. Located near the center of the brain, the nucleus accumbens is connected, by intermingled populations of cells, to many other brain structures having roles in pleasure seeking and drug addiction. The nucleus accumbens is recognized as an integration centre for signals coming from many different brain regions, but the precise role of the different connections, and the means of their integration, resulting in specific behaviours, was until recently impossible to dissect. The advent of optogenetics has made it possible to study the various inputs that come from different regions of the brain, and their positive or negative effects on reward seeking, and their role in drug response in mice and rats.

Dr. Britt has characterized some of the ways that the nucleus accumbens integrates dopamine dependent reinforcement signals with environmental stimuli, which depend on a second neurochemical called glutamate. Glutamate-dependent signals to the nucleus accumbens come from many other brain regions, such as the hippocampus, the amygdala, the thalamus and the prefrontal cortex. Understanding how these different brain regions are interconnected will deepen our understanding of motivation, desire, pleasure seeking and addiction. This research is also applicable to the understanding of conditions such as Tourette's syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"Goal-directed behaviour is regulated by large collection of interconnected brain regions. It is important to understanding how these component parts interact with each other in order to devise treatment strategies for psychiatric diseases such as addiction, Tourette's syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder," concludes Dr. Britt.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Association for Neuroscience. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Canadian Association for Neuroscience. "Investigating the pleasure centers of the brain: How reward signals are transmitted." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140527124101.htm>.
Canadian Association for Neuroscience. (2014, May 27). Investigating the pleasure centers of the brain: How reward signals are transmitted. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140527124101.htm
Canadian Association for Neuroscience. "Investigating the pleasure centers of the brain: How reward signals are transmitted." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140527124101.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. 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