Research & Discovery > Mayo Clinic Researchers Discover Brain Circuit Linked to Addiction

Mayo Clinic Researchers Discover Brain Circuit Linked to Addiction

By Carrie Printz Photograph by David Arky

MAYO CLINIC RESEARCHERS studying the brain’s link to addiction discovered a circuit of neurons in mice that appears to play a role in this behavior. 

The team hopes their findings will help pave the way for new treatments for compulsive, habitual drug and alcohol use. Their study was published in 2023 in the journal Nature Communications.

Matthew Baker, Ph.D., and colleagues, working in the lab of Mayo Clinic molecular pharmacologist Doo-Sup Choi, Ph.D., identified a group of neurons in a region of the brain known as the external globus, or GPe. Together with researchers from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, they found that a subgroup of GPe neurons, known as arkypallidal neurons, help suppress compulsive, reward-seeking behavior.

The team’s findings indicate it may be possible to develop drugs that enable these neurons to control addictive actions.

In his research, Dr. Baker applied a technique that he’d read about while working on his graduate thesis project. It described a way to zero in on and delete a specific neural circuit.

“It was a courageous idea,” Dr. Choi says. “Not many people had tried this approach of deleting a circuit. It made this unique science possible.”

The study was funded in part by gifts to advance addiction research, including the Samuel C. Johnson Genomics of Addiction Program at Mayo Clinic. Additional funding came from the Ulm Family Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Source: Discovery's Edge

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