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New Center to Explore the Brain Science behind Addiction

3D illustration of human head with brain highlighted

A new University of Minnesota center aims to transform researchers’ ability to discover how the brain changes with addiction.

The Center for Neural Circuits in Addiction brings together a team of researchers from across disciplines to create tools for measuring and intervening in the neural circuits that addiction affects. The center will also provide expertise and training to help researchers in the University and beyond use these innovations to develop new treatments for addiction.

The center is funded by a $9.9 million grant from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, with additional funding from the state-funded Medical Discovery Teams and MnDRIVE Brain Conditions research initiatives.

Mark Thomas, PhD, professor of neuroscience in the Medical School and director of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction, said the new center will help raise awareness that addiction does not represent a failure of an individual’s moral character or willpower—instead, it stems from a biological basis and needs to be treated as a chronic, brain-based condition. 

“Addiction and relapse result from changes to neural circuits through repeated exposure to drugs in some people,” Thomas said in a news release. “The center will enable researchers and scientist-clinicians to better understand how the circuits that control emotions, motivation, and decision-making are altered by addiction and recovery. This is essential to finding new, more effective therapies.”

An estimated 450,000 to 500,000 Minnesotans struggle with a substance use disorder, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

See the news release for more about the new center.

Kevin Coss

Kevin Coss

Kevin is a writer with the Office of the Vice President for Research.

coss@umn.edu

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