The future of healing will be information and energy based.
Web edition: April 4, 2013
Print edition: May 4, 2013; Vol.183 #9 (p. 16)
Rats that will go to great lengths to get a cocaine fix might blame a group of sluggish neurons. Controlling the problem may come down to a flick of a light switch: Stimulating those brain cells with lasers reduces the addicted rats’ cocaine use, researchers report in the April 4 Nature.
“It’s an outstanding piece of work,” says neuroscientist A.J. Robison of Michigan State University, who wasn’t involved in the study. The findings could help researchers better understand the role of neural circuitry in drug addiction in humans, he says.
Scientists know that when certain neurons fire less frequently in the prelimbic cortex, a brain region that handles impulse control and reward-driven behavior, a person’s self-control can decrease. But researchers didn’t know whether using cocaine chronically could make the neurons drowsy to begin with, and whether that sluggishness could also promote drug use in spite of ill consequences.