New Scientist Cocaine use prevents adaptive behaviour - Breaking News:
"Cocaine may keep users from adapting to new situations by disrupting connections between key brain regions, suggests a new study in rats. The finding may shed light on the impulsive behaviour seen in cocaine addicts, researchers say.
A team looked at the connections between two regions of the brain: one involved with learning, memory and processing information - the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus - and one involved with pleasure seeking, emotion and reward behaviour - the nucleus accumbens in the limbic system.
Normally, these two regions are held in balance with connections between the two sending information in both directions and allowing “plasticity” of thought, so that behaviour can be modified and adapted to different situations.
Neuroscientists Yuriori Goto and Anthony Grace at the University of Pittsburgh, US, believe that cocaine disrupts these connections and causes the limbic system to become over stimulated.
“It may explain why cocaine addicts are oriented towards pleasure rather than other goals, and have an impaired ability to make decisions. It could be why addicts go back to taking more of the drug and ex-addicts often become addicted again faster than those who have never taken it,” says Grace."