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Nucleus accumbens-presentation

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  • 1. The Nucleus Accumbens
    • By: Nicole, Tobias & Kristine
  • 2. Where is it located?
    • The nucleus accumbens is located at the base of the forebrain, the largest part of the brain.
    • The word accumbent is defined as lying down or leaning against something in a position of comfort.
  • 3. Description
    • The nucleus accumbens is a brain region involved in functions ranging from motivation and reward to feeding and drug addiction.
    • The Nucleus accumbens is typically divided into two major subdivisions, the shell and the core.
    • Sometimes called the brain ’s “pleasure center”, this cluster of neurons modulates the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine, on which many neural circuits depend.
    • The nucleus accumbens is a link in the brain pathways that cause addiction and depression.
  • 4. Connection the Rest of the Brain
    • The major interaction is with the ventral tegmental area ( VTA ) which connects via the mesolimbic pathway
    • Dopaminergic input from the VTA activates the Nucleus Accumbens
    • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and it activates the Nucleus Accumbens whenever we feel pleasure
  • 5. Addiction
    • Lab research points to a relationship between addiction and the release of seratonin and dopamine in the nucleus accumbens.
    • The surge of these neurotransmitters triggers neural activity correlating with the addicts’ high and the sensation of reward on which addiction depends.
    • When someone craves a substance, neural activity increases in anticipation of future pleasure.
  • 6. Placebo Effect
    • Nucleus Accumbens is responsible for the expectancy for reward
    • When a fake reward is administered, the dopamine is released
    • High Dopamine release causes a high and a “good feeling,” which helps heal the body
  • 7. Research
    • 1) Dean Sabatinelli, 2007
      • Pleasure rather than salience activates human nucleus accumbens and medialprefrontal cortex
    • 2) Mary Kay Lobo, 2010
      • Why Cocaine Is So Addictive: Activation of Specific Neurons Linked to Alterations in Cocaine Reward
    • 3) Traute Flatscher-Bader, 2010
        • According to researchers from Australia, the connection between nicotine and alcohol addiction may lie in the nucleus accumbens.
  • 8. Dean Sabatinelli
    • Pleasure rather than salience activates human nucleus accumbens and medial prefrontal cortex
    • Free viewing of pleasant images of erotic and romantic couples prompts clear, reliable increases in nucleus accumbens (NAc) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) activity
    • However, equally arousing (salient) unpleasantimages, and neutral pictures, do not
    • Data suggest that in visual perception, the human NAc and mPFC are specifically reactive to pleasant, rewarding stimuli, and are not engaged during by unpleasant stimuli, despite high stimulus salience.
    • (Sabatinelli, 2007)
  • 9. Mary Kay Lobo
    • Why Cocaine Is So Addictive: Activation of Specific Neurons Linked to Alterations in Cocaine Reward
    • Cocaine corrupts the brain and becomes addictive
    • Discovered connected activation of specific neurons to alterations in cocaine. The results may help researchers in developing new ways of treating those addicted to the drug.
    • Two main neurons (D1 and D2) in the nucleus accumbens region of the brain, exert opposite effects on cocaine reward.
      • Activation of D1 neurons increases cocaine reward
      • Activation of D2 neurons decreases cocaine reward
    • (Lobo, 2010)
  • 10. Traute Flatscher-Bader
    • According to researchers from Australia, the connection between nicotine and alcohol addiction may lie in a pleasure center in the brain, called the nucleus accumbens, which also plays an important role in addiction.
    • Describes an overlap of the effect of alcohol and nicotine in the brain
    • Analyzed the expression of thousands of genes in the post-mortem brain tissue of smokers, alcoholics and those who enjoyed both drugs
    • Discovered that a specific group of genes expressed in the nucleus accumbens were most active in people who abused both alcohol and nicotine
    • When overactive, these genes alter the structure of cells in the nucleus accumbens and may rewire this brain region
      • This finding may help us understand why both drugs are often consumed together ; each drug appears to enhance the addictive properties of the other
    • Flatscher-Bader, 2010
  • 11. Dysfunction of the Nucleus Accumbens
    • Research shows that damage to the Nucleus Accumbens can cause:
    • Lack of motivation and inhibits addictive behavior.
    • Impulsive choice
    • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
    • Tourette syndrome
  • 12. Thanks for listening 