Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy
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big controversy exists on whether an addiction to natural stimulus like sugar (food) occurs or not. We do know that drugs
of addiction sequester neural reward circuits that evolved for natural behaviors, hence, some commonalities between
artificial and natural stimulus will appear. In the following presentation the author will consider an animal model of sugar
addiction that resembles in many ways addiction to drugs. Rodents maintained on a limited, intermittent, access schedule
of a sugar solution (10% sucrose on a 12 hour access starting 4 hours into their active cycle for 21 days) will show signs
and symptoms that meet DSM-IV criteria of addiction. For instance, rats will progressively increase intake of the solution
(escalation, tolerance) and show a withdrawal syndrome similar to the opiate withdrawal including depression and anxiety
(sugar abstinence and naloxone induced). In this same paradigm rats show signs of craving (defined as enhanced motivation
to procure an abused substance) with resistance to extinction on lever pressing for sugar and a deprivation effect is also
demonstrated in rats pressing 23% more 2 weeks after abstinence. Neurochemically there are changes in dopamine and
acetylcholine release in the nucleus accumbens during sugar intake and withdrawal that are similar to those monitored with
substances of abuse. These results gives us idea on how the neural systems work in eating behaviors and drug addiction and
will be helpful in finding new therapies in the treatment of some eating disorders (like binge eating disorder) and drug abuse.
Pedro Rada completed his MD and PhD from University of Los Andes, Venezuela and Postdoctoral studies in Neuroscience at Princeton University, USA. He has received many honor and awards and has been a Visiting Professor at the Psychology Department, Princeton University for 20 years. Currently, he is working at the Laboratory of Behavioral Physiology, Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Los Andes following several lines of investigation (feeding behavior, drug addiction). He is a practicing neurologist and founder of a Neurological Clinic for poor people.
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