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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2001 Feb;2(2):119-28.

Molecular basis of long-term plasticity underlying addiction.

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Department of Psychiatry and Center for Basic Neuroscience, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5,323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75390-9070, USA.

Erratum in

  • Nat Rev Neurosci 2001 Mar;2(3):215.


Studies of human addicts and behavioural studies in rodent models of addiction indicate that key behavioural abnormalities associated with addiction are extremely long lived. So, chronic drug exposure causes stable changes in the brain at the molecular and cellular levels that underlie these behavioural abnormalities. There has been considerable progress in identifying the mechanisms that contribute to long-lived neural and behavioural plasticity related to addiction, including drug-induced changes in gene transcription, in RNA and protein processing, and in synaptic structure. Although the specific changes identified so far are not sufficiently long lasting to account for the nearly permanent changes in behaviour associated with addiction, recent work has pointed to the types of mechanism that could be involved.

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