AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Researchers Examine Brain Region That Affects Drug Use Habits

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Studies on rats show infralimbic cortex suppresses cocaine craving 

The human brain is nimble. It can reorganize itself to learn new things, catalog memories and even break old habits. So, what if our brains could be taught to suppress cravings, especially the destructive impulse to use drugs? University of Iowa researchers studying the infralimbic cortex — a region of the brain that controls addictive behavior — performed a series of experiments in which rats were given cocaine, then taken off the drug. The scientists found that, generally speaking, this region of the brain can be reprogrammed to ease the rats’ cocaine urges. The finding could help users kick the habit with the help of drugs that target the infralimbic cortex — or with improved behavioral treatment for substance addiction and relapse, according to Andrea Gutman, a postdoctoral researcher in the UI Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and corresponding author on the paper.

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