Could brain manipulation techniques soon be used to cure addictions in humans too?
Lasers To The Brain
Scientists at the National Health Institute and UCSF have successfully demonstrated a treatment to alleviate cocaine addiction in rats. By shining laser light on their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with impulse control, the team was able to help rats shake their terrible coke habits.
“When we turn on a laser light in the prelimbic region of the prefrontal cortex, the compulsive cocaine seeking is gone,” said Antonello Bonci, MD.
This study confirms suspicions scientists have had about problems in the prefrontal cortex being linked to compulsive drug use.
Not only is cocaine a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes in young adults, it takes a financial and social toll on it’s users, making this study pretty signifcant.
The team believes this study could have further reaching implications for curbing addiction altogether.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
The research team is now planning a clinical trial on humans, however instead of shooting frickin’ laser beams into our skulls, the plan is to use a form of transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is currently used as a treatment for depression in individuals who don’t respond to drugs or therapy. By using tools placed outside of the scalp that stimulate activity in the same region of the brain, researchers hope to soon achieve the same effect in humans.
This is a promising step in the white direction as long as no one blows it.
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