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Research Discovers the Part of the Brain Associated With Cravings From External Triggers

on Tuesday, 24 April 2012. Posted in Breaking News, From Professionals

Drug And Alcohol Cravings

A region of the brain springs into action when cravings for alcohol are activated by cues, such as smells, researchers find in a study involving rats. According to, the findings suggest that alcohol craving and relapse may have physical neurological basis.

One study from Indiana University presented its findings from experiments in "alcohol-preferring rats." The work discovered a region of the brain that showed increased activities when the rats were exposed to smells they had been taught to associate with alcohol. Primary investigator Zachary Rodd said, "When you look at addiction, there is a learning component. People have rituals before they use cocaine, or before they go to a particular bar to consume alcohol. Pretty soon it is the needles, or the environment, that becomes a cue associated with drug use. After a while, even though people may be attempting to abstain from drug use, they are exposed to cues that have been previously paired with drug use, which stimulate cravings and may cause them to relapse."

This research identified a particular part of the brain that was associated with these cues and craving responses. When drugs were used to temporarily shut down this portion of the brain, the rats showed less craving behavior. One researcher said, "We have a very specific region of the brain controlling a very specific drug-related behavior. This has tremendous implications for the human condition." These experiments suggest that this region of the brain could be a potential target for therapies aimed at controlling cravings associated with drug use.

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