Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2013 Dec;15(4):431-43.

Cellular basis of memory for addiction.

Author information

1
Fishberg Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA.

Abstract

in English, French, Spanish

DESPITE THE IMPORTANCE OF NUMEROUS PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS, AT ITS CORE, DRUG ADDICTION INVOLVES A BIOLOGICAL PROCESS: the ability of repeated exposure to a drug of abuse to induce changes in a vulnerable brain that drive the compulsive seeking and taking of drugs, and loss of control over drug use, that define a state of addiction. Here, we review the types of molecular and cellular adaptations that occur in specific brain regions to mediate addiction-associated behavioral abnormalities. These include alterations in gene expression achieved in part via epigenetic mechanisms, plasticity in the neurophysiological functioning of neurons and synapses, and associated plasticity in neuronal and synaptic morphology mediated in part by altered neurotrophic factor signaling. Each of these types of drug-induced modifications can be viewed as a form of "cellular or molecular memory." Moreover, it is striking that most addiction-related forms of plasticity are very similar to the types of plasticity that have been associated with more classic forms of "behavioral memory," perhaps reflecting the finite repertoire of adaptive mechanisms available to neurons when faced with environmental challenges. Finally, addiction-related molecular and cellular adaptations involve most of the same brain regions that mediate more classic forms of memory, consistent with the view that abnormal memories are important drivers of addiction syndromes. The goal of these studies which aim to explicate the molecular and cellular basis of drug addiction is to eventually develop biologically based diagnostic tests, as well as more effective treatments for addiction disorders.

KEYWORDS:

CREB; dendritic spines; epigenetics; gene transcription; nucleus accumbens; synaptic plasticity; ventral tegmental area; whole cell plasticity; ΔFosB

PMID:
24459410
PMCID:
PMC3898681
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center