|Scientists use 'optogenetics' to control reward-seeking behavior|
|Wednesday, June 29, 2011|
Using a combination of genetic engineering and laser technology, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have manipulated brain wiring responsible for reward-seeking behaviors, such as drug addiction. The work, conducted in rodent models, is the first to directly demonstrate the role of these specific connections in controlling behavior.
The UNC study, published online on June 29, 2011, by the journal Nature, uses a cutting-edge technique called “optogenetics” to tweak the microcircuitry of the brain and then assess how those changes impact behavior. The findings suggest that therapeutics targeting the path between two critical brain regions, namely the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens, represent potential treatments for addiction and other neuropsychiatric diseases.
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