BORDEAUX, France, June 29 (UPI) — Impairment of the brain’s ability to react to changes — synaptic plasticity — may be linked to addiction, researchers in France said.
Study leaders Pier Vincenzo Piazza and Olivier Manzoni and colleagues at the Neurocentre Magendie in Bordeaux, a unit of the Institut national de la sante et de la recherche medicale, said impairment of synaptic plasticity caused new learning to cease. Behavior became more rigid and drug consumption became more compulsive.
The study, published in Science, used rats — mammals that share with humans the proclivity to self-administer cocaine. However, only a small number of rodents — or humans — actually become addicted.
The researchers said drug taking changed to genuine addiction when the brain no longer reacted to drug caused changing conditions. In some, this loss of plasticity happened after only short term cocaine use. However, all who used the drug long-term did lose plasticity.
“Understanding the biological mechanisms which enable adaptation to the drug and which help the user to maintain a controlled consumption could provide us with the tools to combat the anaplastic state that leads to addiction,” the study authors said in a statement.
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