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Drug-related preference in cocaine addiction extends to images
Date:11/16/2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. When given a choice between viewing pictures of cocaine and a variety of other images, cocaine addicted individuals, as compared to healthy, non-addicted research subjects, show a clear preference for the drug-related images. Findings from this study, which was conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, will be presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington D.C. on Sunday, November 16, 2008, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, by Scott Moeller, a psychology graduate student at the University of Michigan who worked with the Brookhaven Lab Neuropsychoimaging group (director, Rita Goldstein) on this research.

"This behavioral study demonstrates for the first time that drug-related choice in cocaine addiction extends to abstract, non-pharmacological stimuli, facilitating the study of choice behavior in addiction without using actual cocaine," Moeller said. Previously, scientists have had to administer the actual drug (cocaine), or drugs that are pharmacologically similar to cocaine, to test its effects on brain and behavioral functions. Now, the tasks developed by Moeller while training with Goldstein's team could help clinicians monitor choice behavior for example, to follow the effectiveness of treatment in addicted individuals who are currently abstaining from drugs.

In the first task of the experiment, both healthy control subjects and cocaine-addicted individuals digitally selected one of four face-down card decks and could select a card again from the same deck or switch decks. Unknown to the subjects, each deck contained mostly one image type: cocaine-related images, pleasant images, unpleasant images, or neutral ones. This test of choice is considered implicit because subjects were not necessarily aware of their tendency to choose one type of image over the others. In the second, explicit choice task, subjects repeatedly selected between two side-by-side, face-up im
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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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