About 2 million U.S. residents use cocaine for its side-effects of euphoria and U.S. scientists want to determine how the brain reacts to the drug.
University of Missouri researchers Ashwin Mohan and Sandeep Pendyam say cocaine addiction can cause severe biological and behavioral problems and is very difficult to overcome. The scientists are using computational models to study how the brain's chemicals and synaptic mechanisms react to cocaine addiction and what that could mean for future therapies.
"With cocaine addiction, addicts don't feel an urge to revolt because there is a strong connection in the brain from the decision-making center to the pleasure center, which overwhelms other normal rewards and is why they keep seeking it," Pendyam said. "By using computational models, we're targeting the connection in the brain that latches onto the pleasure center and the parameters that maintain that process."
Mohan and Pendyam, in collaboration with Professors Satish Nair and Peter Kalivas, are seeking to discover how some rehabilitative drugs work by devising a model of the fundamental workings of an addict's brain.
"Using a systems approach helped us to find key information about the addict's brain that had been missed in the past two decades of cocaine addiction research," Mohan said
Moham and Pendyam's previous research has been published in the journal Neuroscience and as a book chapter in New Research on Neuronal Networks.
September 24, 2009