A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

How Exercise May Make Addictions Better, or Worse – NYTimes.com

In News, Nonsense on April 11, 2012 at 09:44

How Exercise May Make Addictions Better, or Worse 

I find this so interesting

Statistically, people who exercise are much less likely than inactive people to abuse drugs or alcohol. But can exercise help curb addictions? Some research shows that exercise may stimulate reward centers in the brain, helping to ease cravings for drugs or other substances. But according to an eye-opening new study of cocaine-addicted mice, dedicated exercise may in some cases make it even harder to break an addiction.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, began by dividing male mice into those that had or did not have running wheels in their cages. All of the mice were injected with a chemical that marks newly created brain cells.

The animals then sat in their cages or ran at will for 30 days.

Afterward, the mice were placed in small multiroom chambers in the lab and introduced to liquid cocaine. They liked it.

Researchers frequently use a model known as “conditioned place preference” to study addiction in animals. If a rodent returns to and stubbornly plants itself in a particular place where it has received a drug or other pleasurable experience, then the researchers conclude that the animal has become habituated. It badly wants to repeat the experience that it associates with that place.

All of the mice displayed a decided place preference for the spot within their chamber where they received cocaine. They had learned to associate that location with the pleasures of the drug. All of the mice had, essentially, become addicts.

 

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