Using cocaine for long periods of time can have detrimental effects on your brain’s ability to process information and make decisions. Cocaine abusers often lose some of their capability to remember or memorize simple things. Studies have shown that there are direct correlations between constant cocaine abuse and a person’s ability to remember things and make good choices. As the premier drug rehab Charlotte NC treatment center, we have seen how cocaine abuse can ruin lives. Did you know that chronic cocaine abuse is directly related to abnormalities in the parts of the brain responsible for decision-making? Some researchers believe that these brain problems might explain why many cocaine addicts relapse even after a decent period of sobriety.Dr. Robert Hester of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and Dr. Hugh Garavan of Trinity College and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee paired together to conduct a study based on this theory.
Dr. Nora D. Volkow agrees. She is the director of The National Institute of Drug Abuse. In a news release, she stated “Addictive substances such as cocaine can damage the dopamine system in the brain, and there is a high concentration of dopamine receptors in brain regions involved in higher-order decision-making processes,” and later “By employing functional neuroimaging to examine the neural changes that often result from chronic cocaine abuse, these scientists have identified another aspect of cocaine’s effect on the brain that may help explain why individuals persist in these behaviors despite the negative consequences.”
For the study, the two scientists reached out to 30 individuals, 15 active cocaine users and 15 non-users to act as the control. Each participant was given a 6-second memory test of letters and then an 8-second test with a rehearsed list. The participants were asked to press a button when they viewed a letter, not on the preceding list. During this study, their brains were studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging. This technology illustrated nerve cell activity during task performance.
The group that consisted of the cocaine abusers were not as accurate as their control counterparts by a large margin. By using brain imaging technology, the researchers were able to determine that the demands of remembering required increased activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the prefrontal cortex areas. Dr. Garavan stated, “Previous research that examined cognitive function in cocaine abusers identified decreased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex,” and that “our study is the first to show that the difficulty cocaine users have with inhibiting their actions, particularly when high levels of reasoning and decision-making are required, relate directly to this reduced capacity for controlling activity in the ACC and prefrontal regions of the brain.”
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