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What makes rats relapse

December 03, 2018

Activation of the anterior insular cortex -- a brain region implicated in drug abuse -- rather than drinking history or motivation for alcohol predicts relapse after a month of abstinence, reports a study of male rats published in JNeurosci. The results may explain why some individuals are more likely than others to relapse.

Using a recently developed animal model of alcohol-seeking, Andrew Lawrence, Erin Campbell, and colleagues studied a defining feature of human alcohol use disorder: the tendency to relapse following self-imposed abstinence, despite known health and social consequences. Alcohol-using rats were more likely to relapse after 30 days of abstinence in an environment in which they were previously punished with a foot shock, suggesting alcohol-seeking in the face of adversity. This finding is relevant to the human experience of returning to alcohol use after a distressing event, such as an ended relationship or loss of a job.

Identification of the anterior insular cortex -- inactivation of which prevented relapse in the punishment context -- furthers our understanding the neurobiology of relapse, which could inform preventative strategies for alcohol use disorder in humans.
-end-
Article: Anterior Insular Cortex is Critical for the Propensity to Relapse Following Punishment-Imposed Abstinence of Alcohol Seeking
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1596-18.2018

Corresponding authors: Corresponding Authors: Andrew Lawrence, andrew.lawrence@florey.edu.au and Erin Campbell, erin.campbell@florey.edu.au (The Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health, Parkville, Australia)

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

Society for Neuroscience

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