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Science AMA Series: Hi Reddit! I’m Olivier George from The Scripps Research Institute, here to answer your questions about how drugs and alcohol affect our neural networks! Ask Me Anything!
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Hi Reddit! I’m Olivier George, principal investigator at The Scripps Research Institute and member of the Committee On The Neurobiology Of Addictive Disorders here. My lab recently published a novel study in The Journal of Neuroscience identifying a neuronal network that may be critical for alcoholism. This preclinical study demonstrates that the behaviors associated with alcohol dependence may be reversed by performing a single pharmacogenetic intervention in the brain. The results of this study show that in rats that were heavily dependent on alcohol, both the compulsive alcohol drinking and the physical signs of withdrawal could be reversed back to normal by inactivating a specific neuronal ensemble in a brain region called the central nucleus of the amygdala. A key result in this study is the very long-lasting reversal of alcohol dependence (> 2 weeks) after a single brain manipulation, suggesting that we could use this neuronal network to identify new molecular targets and better medications for the treatment of alcoholism. Our lab is currently working on identifying the brain regions under the control of this neuronal network and on identifying new molecular targets in this network that could be used for medication development. Curious about how addiction works and how alcohol and drugs affect our neural networks? You can also follow our lab on Twitter Read the press release on our research here ** I will be answering your questions at 5pm EST (2pm PST) – Ask Me Anything!**