January 17, 2013
Brain Differences Confer Resistance To Cocaine Addiction?

Abnormally large frontal lobes seem to make recreational cocaine users resistant to addiction.

People who take cocaine over many years without becoming addicted have a brain structure which is significantly different from those individuals who developed cocaine-dependence, researchers have discovered. New research from the University of Cambridge has found that recreational drug users who have not developed a dependence have an abnormally large frontal lobe, the section of the brain implicated in self-control. Their research was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

For the study, led by Dr Karen Ersche, individuals who use cocaine on a regular basis underwent a brain scan and completed a series of personality tests. The majority of the cocaine users were addicted to the drug but some were not (despite having used it for several years).

When offspring genetic engineering becomes practical the rush to make kids smarter will have the side effect of making them less susceptible to cocaine addiction.

The frontal lobes are like a strong driver of a stage coach with really big muscles for pulling on the reins of charging horses. Some people lack the strong driver and the horses gallop out of control.

The scientists discovered that a region in the frontal lobes of the brain, known to be critically implicated in decision-making and self-control, was abnormally bigger in the recreational cocaine users. The Cambridge researchers suggest that this abnormal increase in grey matter volume, which they believe predates drug use, might reflect resilience to the effects of cocaine, and even possibly helps these recreational cocaine users to exert self-control and to make advantageous decisions which minimize the risk of them becoming addicted.

They found that this same region in the frontal lobes of the brain was significantly reduced in size in people with cocaine dependence, confirming earlier research that had found similar results. They believe that at least some of these changes are the result of drug use, which causes drug users to lose grey matter.

The more intense cocaine use of the addict accelerates grey matter loss, further weakening the control unit.

If you've got a strong sensation-seeking desire but lack impulsivity and compulsivity you can have your thrills and probably come out okay.

They also found that people who use illicit drugs like cocaine exhibit high levels of sensation-seeking personality traits, but only those developing dependence show personality traits of impulsivity and compulsivity.

Our drugs, cell phones, TV sets, and other products of modern society are too much for the most impulsive among us to handle.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 January 17 09:53 PM 


Comments
David Yerle said at January 17, 2013 10:34 PM:

Well, that makes sense on many levels. It seems like a neuroscience-like take on the old rational/impulsive divide...

Kent Gatewood said at January 20, 2013 7:37 PM:

Does this explain Sherlock Holmes?

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