This is your brain on cocaine

Posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2020

New research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry is furthering scientists’ understanding of what happens in the brains of people who use cocaine heavily.

Taking a novel approach to brain imaging, the researchers used neuromelanin-sensitive MRI (NM-MRI) as a non-invasive proxy measure to investigate dopamine function in the human brain.

“The benefit of this method is that it’s a simple way to track imbalance in the dopamine system in addiction. This new method is more accessible than the more standard neuroimaging tools used to examine the dopamine system.” says lead author investigator Dr. Clifford Cassidy, Assistant Professor in the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and a scientist at The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR).

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