Cocaine May 'Teach' Addiction to Brain—Fast
Scientists see changes to mouse brains after 2 hours
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Aug 26, 2013 8:30 AM CDT
It doesn't take long for cocaine to change the brain's structure, a study suggests.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Just one dose of cocaine may physically change the brain as the body begins "learning addiction," scientists say. They investigated the effect of the drug on mice, and noted that within two hours of being injected with the drug, brain changes were visible, the BBC reports. After two hours, scans showed that mice on the drug developed more dendritic spines—key to forming memories—than did mice injected with water. "Our images provide clear evidence that cocaine induces rapid gains in new spines, and the more spines the mice gain, the more they show they learned about the drug," says a researcher.

At the beginning of the experiment, the mice were placed in a "conditioning box" comprised of two very different rooms linked by a door. After their room preference became clear, they were injected in the opposite room. Afterward, mice tended to hang out on the side where they'd been injected, suggesting "they were looking for more cocaine," says the researcher, per the UC Berkeley News Center. As for us humans, the brain changes could show how "drug-related cues come to dominate decision-making ... leaving more mundane tasks and cues with relatively less power to activate the brain’s decision-making centers." (Click for another fascinating study involving cocaine.)

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Showing 3 of 16 comments
Aug 27, 2013 12:43 AM CDT
What nonsense. Nicotine is the only drug I was ever addicted to. Once I started smoking, I couldn't stop. Kicking was the hardest thing I ever did. That pot was illegal when I was young was nutty. Now I'm old, and it's beyond absurd. What's next? Will the government say no pink under panties on Thursdays, just because? Cocaine: It's powerful for some, but not everyone. People have different chemistry. They don't all react the same way to the various drugs. One person's high is another one's meh.
Aug 26, 2013 10:35 PM CDT
The same thing could happen no matter what they use. How about using bacon or Pepsi. They always knew where the water was.
Aug 26, 2013 10:35 PM CDT
I can remember an article from the early '70's when I was a "child of the universe", that according to "High Times" magazine the best pot grown in the USA was grown on a farm in Mississippi. It was grown by the government of the United States. Guess what? It still is...