Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Nerve Therapy Study Finds Potential Way to Reduce Drug Cravings - NEUROSCIENCE
A new preclinical study led by a University of Texas at Dallas researcher shows that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy might have the potential to help people overcome drug addiction by helping them learn new behaviors to replace those associated with seeking drugs.
The new research, published in the January issue of the journal Learning and Memory, found that drug cravings in addicted rats were reduced when they were treated with VNS. It’s possible that the research could be applied to people who have been addicted to drugs, said senior author Dr. Sven Kroener, assistant professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
“We are studying extinction learning and how vagus nerve stimulation can help subjects learn a new behavior that is opposed to an existing, maladaptive behavior like drug-taking,” Kroener said. “When a subject is addicted to a drug, extinction is a method to help them relearn behaviors — so they are able to take different actions.”
Vagus nerve stimulation involves sending a mild electric pulse through the vagus nerve, which is in the neck. VNS already has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for certain illnesses, such as depression and epilepsy.
UT Dallas is a major hub of VNS research, with studies currently being done on how the method can potentially help people recover from paralysis from stroke, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or tinnitus.
Journal article/ paywall:http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/24/1/35.full?sid=4d723e70-68fc-425a-8909-7d9cd33d1000