Deep Brain Stimulation Decreases Cocaine Addiction in Rats
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.