Neuronal differences in certain brain regions observed in chronic users of cocaine

May 28, 2002

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have detected differences in areas of the brain in chronic cocaine users. These differences were detected in regions involved in decision making, behavioral inhibition, and emotional reaction to the environment.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other brain mapping techniques, the researchers, led by Dr. Teresa R. Franklin, examined 13 men who had used cocaine for an average of 13 years each. They found that, compared to controls who had never used cocaine, select regions of the brains of the cocaine users had less gray matter. This decrease in critical working brain tissue ranged from 5 to 11 percent. This is the first time in either animal or human studies that differences in gray matter concentrations have been found in chronic cocaine users.

The investigators suggest that some of the behaviors observed in chronic cocaine use- such as choosing immediate gratification over long-term reward; engaging in risky behaviors, particularly when attempting to obtain cocaine; and succumbing to the overwhelming desire to seek and use drugs undeterred by the prospect of future negative consequences- may be a result of these gray matter deficiencies.

WHAT IT MEANS: Understanding the long-term impact that cocaine can have on the brain and cognition will help scientists to develop strategies to reverse those effects and, and, ultimately, restore the brain to normal function.
-end-
The study was published in the January, 2002 issue of Biological Psychiatry. It was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse

Related Cocaine Articles from Brightsurf:

Sleep-deprived mice find cocaine more rewarding
Sleep deprivation may pave the way to cocaine addiction. Too-little sleep can increase the rewarding properties of cocaine, according to new research in mice published in eNeuro.

Nucleus accumbens recruited by cocaine, sugar are different
In a study using genetically modified mice, a University of Wyoming faculty member found that the nucleus accumbens recruited by cocaine use are largely distinct from nucleus accumbens recruited by sucrose, or table sugar.

Astrocytes build synapses after cocaine use in mice
Drugs of abuse, like cocaine, are so addictive due in part to their cellular interaction, creating strong cellular memories in the brain that promote compulsive behaviors.

Of all professions, construction workers most likely to use opioids and cocaine
Construction workers are more likely to use drugs than workers in other professions, finds a study by the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) at NYU College of Global Public Health.

Chronic cocaine use modifies gene expression
Chronic cocaine use changes gene expression in the hippocampus, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Blocking dopamine weakens effects of cocaine
Blocking dopamine receptors in different regions of the amygdala reduces drug seeking and taking behavior with varying longevity, according to research in rats published in eNeuro.

Born to run: just not on cocaine
A study finds a surprising response to cocaine in a novel strain of mutant mice -- they failed to show hyperactivity seen in normal mice when given cocaine and didn't run around.

Cocaine adulterant may cause brain damage
People who regularly take cocaine cut with the animal anti-worming agent levamisole demonstrate impaired cognitive performance and a thinned prefrontal cortex.

Setting affects pleasure of heroin and cocaine
Drug users show substance-specific differences in the rewarding effects of heroin versus cocaine depending on where they use the drugs, according to a study published in JNeurosci.

One in 10 people have traces of cocaine or heroin on their fingerprints
Scientists have found that drugs are now so prevalent that 13 percent of those taking part in a test were found to have traces of class A drugs on their fingerprints -- despite never using them.

Read More: Cocaine News and Cocaine Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.