Friday, October 26, 2007

A brain region for addiction?

From physorg:
An animal study released Thursday bolsters the notion that drug cravings can be "switched off" by shutting down a key part of the brain, a finding that could have implications for treating addicts. Researchers have previously shown that damage to the insula can dramatically extinguish a smoker's need for nicotine.
The obvious next step is to see if this holds true for other addictions, such as as alcohol, overeating, and other drugs. Surprisingly, what researchers found in rat studies is that anesthetizing the insula also decreased unwanted medication side effects.
Chilean researchers have shown that temporarily "silencing" the insula suppresses cravings in drug-addicted rats and insulates them from the unpleasant side effects of medication, according to the study published in Science.
They hypothesize that this may be the brain region responsible for drug cravings, and that future treatments for addiction should target the insula.

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