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Researchers discover how the brain 'learns' cocaine addiction

Researchers said that knowing this detail may help identify new treatments for addicts.

Image: Brain x-ray via Shutterstock

A TEAM OF researchers has said that it has solved the long-standing puzzle of why a key protein in the brain linked to learning is also needed to become addicted to cocaine.

In response to a drug-induced rush of a ‘pleasure’ molecule, this learning protein works with other proteins to create new pathways in the brain – effectively rewiring it for addiction.

By adding this detail to the process of addiction, the researchers, led by a group at Johns Hopkins, said that the work may point the way to new treatments for addicts.

“The broad question was why and how cocaine strengthened certain circuits in the brain long term, effectively re-wiring the brain for addiction,” says Paul Worley, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “What we found in this study was how two very different types of systems in the brain work together to make that happen.”

The brain process explains how cocaine can co-ope normal mechanisms of learning to induce an addiction. “Knowing the details of this mechanism may now help researchers identify targets for potential drugs to treat addiction,” Worley said.

Read: Some foods may be addictive – science>

Read: Drug users need our compassion, says Elton John>

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