Experts from the University of Nottingham are going to investigate on the connection of certain abnormalities to the predisposition for drug addiction. This is according to the Press Association Ltd.
The said £360,000 study is scheduled to be a three-year investigation on the frontal cortex – said to be the decision-making area of the brain. Scientists headed by Dr Lee Hogarth of the Universitys School of Psychology will study whether or not abnormalities in the said region can influence an individual’s predisposition for dependency on certain psychoactive substances such as tobacco, marijuana, alcohol and heroin.
“Evidence suggests that a large percentage of the population try drugs but only a small proportion of experimental users – roughly about fifteen percent – will make the transition to full-blown addiction,” says Dr. Hogarth. He went on to explain that their study will hopefully shed new light on how there are people who can use drugs casually without developing an addiction for them while there are those who grow dependent on them.
The study is going to focus on the frontal cortex as this is the area where an individual weighs the short term gains of doing something against its potential negative consequences. For the researchers, there are people who are biologically programmed to become dependent on drugs because of possible malfunctions on this particular area of the brain. These malfunctions or abnormalities are what is hindering the ability to sufficiently consider risks which can cause them to make poor decisions relative to drug use.
Risk-taking behaviors are mainly associated with the youth because their frontal cortex has yet to fully develop. This is why the research will entail comparing students who smoke socially and daily as well as adult smokers who are nicotine dependent vis-a-vis those who are not. The four groups will be used to identify the transition to dependence to drugs.
The researchers will also use MRI technology to accurately measure the level of abnormal brain activity in subjects who exhibit drug seeking behavior in spite of punishment.
Dr Hogarth notes: “The risk of becoming addicted is due to a failure to offset the anticipated pleasure from drug use with knowledge of the long term negative consequences. The frontal cortex carries signals for anticipated pleasure and pain so we expect to see an abnormality in the integration of these signals in dependent addicts who persist in punished drug seeking behavior.”
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