Drugs of abuse target discrete collections of nerve cells—called circuits—in the brain that normally regulate responses to natural rewards in the environment, like food, sex, and social interactions. The areas of brain involved in these circuits are referred to as brain reward regions. Drugs corrupt these brain regions and circuits by activating them with abnormal power and persistence, actions that trigger adaptations at the molecular and cellular levels that are aimed to compensate for the drug-induced effects. These adaptations enable a drug to gradually and progressively take control over a vulnerable individual's life. During this Webinar, Dr. Nestler will describe these molecular, cellular, and circuit actions of drugs of abuse and how knowledge gained from this work can be used to develop more effective treatments of addiction.
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