Health Watch -- The Nervous System: Cocaine Addiction

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about the brain and nervous system. We know that cocaine is a dangerous drug, but researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have discovered how it affects the brain to produce the immediate high from cocaine use and to develop an addiction on a long-term basis.

The researchers found that cocaine alters the biochemical processes in the brain, allowing certain genes to be turned on in the brain’s reward centers to produce the cocaine high and different genes to be affected in long-term use to create addiction. Dr. Eric Nestler, UT Southwestern’s chairman of psychiatry, says that understanding how cocaine affects the brain at the molecular level may lead to new treatments for addiction.


February 2006

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