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Deep Brain Stimulation Decreases Cocaine Addiction in Rats

A surgical technique called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), which uses permanently implanted electrodes to disrupt abnormal electrical activity in the brain, has shown promise as a treatment for some psychiatric disorders, so researchers are testing the potential use of DBS as a treatment for cocaine addiction.

Researchers—partly funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse—implanted rats with DBS electrodes in an area thought to play a role in the reinstatement of drug-seeking behavior. The researchers then taught the rats to self-administer either cocaine or food. After several weeks, the rats went through a period of withdrawal followed by a test in which they were given either an injection of cocaine or food.

The DBS electrodes were turned on during the test, and reward-seeking behaviors in the rats receiving DBS were compared to a group of control rats that did not receive DBS. DBS was found to significantly reduce the drug-seeking behavior but not food seeking, indicating that “DBS does not produce a generalized disruption of normal behavior.”

In another experiment, DBS in another part of the brain did not reduce the drug-seeking behavior after re-exposure to cocaine, indicating that the effect is anatomically specific.

The findings show that DBS may have potential as a treatment or cocaine addiction, but it would probably be reserved for life-threatening addiction because it involves invasive surgery.

Posted on June 11th, 2009
Posted in Cocaine

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