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Visualizing Addiction

August 30, 2016

Sensors that light up in presence of neurotransmitters are helping unlock the secrets of drug addiction.



Watching addiction unfold. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

How drugs cause addiction is poorly understood. At a meeting of the American Chemical Society, neuroscientist Paul Slesinger, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, reports using brain implants that light up in the presence of addiction-related brain chemicals, like dopamine and norephinephrine.

PAUL SLESINGER (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai):

And what we were looking at was the release of these neurotransmitters in living mice, where the mice are learning to pair a reward with a tone that they hear that precedes the reward.


They’re correlating the timing of a neurotransmitter’s release with its effects on particular neurons, as the mice learn to anticipate a reward. Slesinger says that will help them better understand the chemistry of addiction, and perhaps identify methods to prevent it. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon