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Keywords:

  • Cocaine;
  • hippocampus;
  • neurogenesis;
  • self-administration;
  • water T-maze;
  • working memory

ABSTRACT

Drug addiction is a chronic brain disorder, characterized by the loss of the ability to control drug consumption. The neurobiology of addiction is traditionally thought to involve the mesocorticolimbic system of the brain. However, the hippocampus has received renewed interest for its potential role in addiction. Part of this attention is because of the fact that drugs of abuse are potent negative regulators of neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus and may as a result impair learning and memory. We investigated the effects of different dosages of contingent cocaine on cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and on working memory during abstinence, using the water T-maze test, in adult rats. We found that cocaine, in addition to the changes it produces in the reward system, if taken in high doses, can attenuate the production and development of new neurons in the hippocampus, and reduce working memory.