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Addiction and Neural Plasticity

Drug addiction can be defined as a long-term change in nervous system function as a result of drug exposure.  This drug-induced neural plasticity leads to drug seeking, ingestion, and reward.  Research relevant to addiction ranges from very basic studies of the mechanisms for neural plasticity in model organisms (Mark Alkema, Vivian Budnik, Mike Francis, Hong-Sheng Li, Kensuke Futai, Dori Schafer), to identification of the neural circuits and neurochemical mechanisms through which drugs of abuse influence cellular physiology, neural plasticity and behavior in rodents (Gilles Martin, Andrew Tapper, Paul Gardner, Haley Melikian).

Mindfulness training is one non-pharmacological approach to treating addiction.  The pioneering Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School has programs to facilitate smoking cessation and weight loss.

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