Researchers have distinguished two different molecular pathways responsible for addiction and the prosocial feelings generated by MDMA. The findings could lead to novel treatments for psychiatric disorders marked by withdrawal and social awkwardness.
Ketamine reduced alcohol intake in male rat models of alcohol use disorder but increased the desire for alcohol in low-consumption females.
A circuit-specific gender difference in ventral hippocamps to nucleus accumbens (vHPC-NAc) neurons is dependent on testosterone and causes more susceptibility to stress in females.
Opiate exposure causes synaptic rewiring in the nucleus accumbens in addition to decreasing dendritic spines. The findings shed light into the neurobiology of opiate relapse.
A positive correlation has been identified between prosocial and rebellious behaviors in teens. The more risk taking behaviors a teen exhibited, the more likely they were to act prosocially. The findings suggest the same developmental processes are at work for both types of behaviors. Also noted was faster brain development in the medial prefrontal cortex predicted a decrease in rebellious behavior.
What we find pleasurable may be down to our genetics. Researchers found nucleus accumbens activation and physical anhedonia were influenced by shared genes. The experience of pleasure and physical anhedonia also appear to share some of the same genes.
By looking at THC’s effect on a rat brain, the researchers showed that THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, can produce highly rewarding effects in the front-most part of a region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. The image is in the public domain.
White matter connectivity between the auditory processing areas and brain areas associated with reward may explain why we like, or dislike music.
The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) appears to play a significant role in our ability to make decisions. A network connecting the OFC and nucleus accumbens translates negative outcomes into values, while the OFC-amygdala circuit helps stabilize action values.