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C. Research Explores the Brain and Drug Addiction

Narrator: This is Science Today. Despite decades of research, the science behind drug addiction is still largely unexplained. Dr. Antonello Bonci of the University of California San Francisco, is working to find out more about the changes in the brain that make addiction so hard to overcome.

Bonci: Even if it doesn't last long, every time we are exposed to cocaine, even if the pleasurable effects last for 3-4 hours, there is something in the brain region that is related to addictive behaviors that is changed for way longer than three hours of pleasure.

Narrator: The brain region responsible for the initiation of addictive behaviors is called the V-T-A. Dr Bonci found that after five days-long after the effects of cocaine are gone-the V-T-A is still changed by the drug exposure.

Bonci: Is it really possible that in those five days, there is a transfer of information from the VTA that triggers the initiation of addictive behaviors to all the other brain regions, and now the VTA as we know it is not any more necessary for addictive behaviors.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.