AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Reward, Aversion Behaviors Activated Through Same Brain Pathways

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Findings recently published in the journal Neuron may help explain why drug treatments for addiction and depression don’t work for some patients. The results of the study suggest that the treatments for both may simultaneously stimulate reward and aversion responses in the brain, resulting in a net effect of zero for some patients. “We studied the neurons that cause activation of kappa opioid receptors, which are involved in every kind of addiction — alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine,” said the principal investigator of the study. “We produced opposite reward and aversion behaviors by activating neuronal populations located very near one another. This might help explain why drug treatments for addiction don’t always work — they could be working in these two regions at the same time and canceling out any effects.” By understanding how the receptors work, researchers may be able to more specifically target drug therapies to treat conditions linked to reward and aversion responses in the brain. To read more about this study, click here.

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