Cocaine Rewires The Brain After Just One Use, New Study Says

By Philip Ross on August 27, 2013 10:18 PM EDT

cocaine
Cocaine rewired the brains of mice after just one dose. (Photo: Flickr/Valerie Everett)

Cocaine rewires the brain after just one use, say researchers in California. While it has long been known that long-term use of cocaine screws with the brain's reward pathway, this is the first time that research has shown that the drug alters brain function the first time someone uses.

A team from the University of California, Berkeley and University of California, San Francisco studied how cocaine affected the brains of mice. They found that just a single dose of cocaine affected the brain's frontal lobe - the area of the brain responsible for emotion and judgment - in the rodents.

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After taking images of the mice's brains both before and after injecting cocaine, they found that the areas of the brain affected immediately were learning, memory and decision-making, News.com.au reports. Researchers observed that the cocaine caused the dendritic spines in the mice's brain to multiply rapidly, meaning the brain was forming a memory for it.

"We've long known that when you become a repeated drug user, the search for more drugs tends to dominate your attention and decision-making," Linda Wilbrecht, the study's lead author, told the Huffington Post. "But it's quite shocking that these neurological changes happened after just one use."

The new insight into how cocaine affects the brain could be used to better treat cocaine addiction in humans.

Read more from iScience Times:

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Pizza Man Cocaine Delivery: How Did Papa John's Employee Ramon Rodriguez Get Caught Selling Drugs?

Anti-Cocaine Vaccine May Be Cure For Addicts; How Does It Prevent The Drug From Reaching The Brain?

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