A new UC Berkeley study is challenging the idea that addiction is hardwired in the brain. The study examined the behavior of mice with short stimulation in a learning environment. Their findings show that a brain’s reward system can be rewired to bolster it against drug dependence.
“We have compelling behavioral evidence that self-directed exploration and learning altered their reward systems so that when cocaine was experienced it made less of an impact on their brain,” said Linda Wilbrecht, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the paper just published in the journal, Neuropharmacology.
Previous studies have indicated various environmental and psychological stressors can alter the brain’s reward circuitry and make us more susceptible to substance abuse. Wilbrecht goes on to say that “positive learning experiences, through education or play in a structured environment, could sculpt and develop brain circuits to build resilience in at-risk individuals, and that even brief cognitive interventions may be somewhat protective and last a relatively long time.” Read more about it [here] .