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Nicotine alters neurotransmission in habit-forming brain region

Nicotine reduces dorsal striatal output, which may underlie urge to smoke and make it difficult to break the habit

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: A study of rat brain slices published in JNeurosci demonstrates how nicotine interacts with cells that regulate the output of a brain region involved in habit formation. The research could... view more 

Credit: Licheri et al., JNeurosci (2018)

A study of rat brain slices published in JNeurosci demonstrates how nicotine interacts with cells that regulate the output of a brain region involved in habit formation. The research could inform efforts to help people quit smoking and avoid relapse.

The addictive qualities of nicotine have been attributed to the brain's reward system. However, recent research suggests that a shift of activity from the ventral to the dorsal striatum, which parallels the transition of an intentional behavior into a more automatic habit, may have an important role in the development of nicotine addiction.

Louise Adermark and colleagues found that nicotine reduces dorsal striatal output, an effect that persists even after the drug has been cleared from the brain. These changes in neuronal activity may underlie the urge to smoke as well as make it difficult to break the habit. This advance in our understanding of nicotine addiction may help to decrease smoking prevalence.

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Article: Complex control of striatal neurotransmission by nicotinic acetylcholine receptors via excitatory inputs onto medium spiny neurons

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0071-18.2018

Corresponding author: Louise Adermark (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), louise.adermark@neuro.gu.se

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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