Brain communication networks altered during drug withdrawal, study in mice finds


Focusing on specific brain regions when studying drug and alcohol abuse simplifies the research, but can leave out important information. In fact, the entire brain landscape reorganizes during withdrawal, potentially hampering communication between regions, according to new mouse research published in in Euro.

Kimbrough et al. administered psychostimulants to mice (cocaine, methamphetamine or nicotine) for a week and then measured their neuronal activity during withdrawal. For all three drugs, the withdrawal brain state displayed increased functional connectivity -; a measure of synchronized activity and communication between regions of the brain; compared to the control brain state. The withdrawal, however, mixed up the activated brain regions at the same time. Control brains displayed normal modularity, where small groups of brain regions activate together.

Brains undergoing removal, on the other hand, had large clusters of co-activated brain regions, representing reduced modularity. It also occurs with head trauma and Alzheimer’s disease and involves impaired neural communication. These results indicate that changes in the modularity of the brain may be a universal effect of different types of addictive drugs.


Journal reference:

Kimbrough, A., et al. (2021) Characterization of the functional brain architecture of psychostimulant withdrawal using unicellular brain imaging. in Euro.

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