Place cells and addictive drugs

David Longley David at longley.demon.co.uk
Sat Jun 19 06:50:46 EST 2004

In article <Xns950D87456D5FCBilZ0rhotmailcom at>, BilZ0r 
<BilZ0r at TAKETHISOUThotmail.com> writes
>gmsizemore2 at yahoo.com (Glen M. Sizemore) wrote in
>news:6e2f1d09.0406170830.1ca99238 at posting.google.com:
>> GS: But I think that a lot of these studies are looking at changes in
>> the VTA, NAcc, VP etc. as a function of extended exposure to drugs.
>> No? I don't think the notion ever was "this is where the learning
>> takes place." Indeed, I'm not sure most people regard "addiction" as
>> primarily a learning phenomenon. Certainly, learning to
>> self-administer a drug puts one on the road, and it is clear that
>> (most) drugs of abuse (DOA) function as reinforcers in non-humans, but
>> the notion is that the whole motivational system goes out of whack as
>> a function of repeated self-administration (and the neurochemistry is
>> different when the drug is self-administered – at least with cocaine).
>No, I think a lot of people are looking at changes in the VTA being
>responsible for the learning, they're not putting it forward blatantly
>yet, but putting it as questions. For instance "It is not clear, however,
>if these early alterations in VTA function act solely as a transient gate
>to permit downstream changes or play a more significant long term role in
>the persistent changes that underlie drug-craving"..."Enhanced
>glutamatergic transmission at VTA synapses may also produce long-term
>changes in the VTA itself that contribute to relapse to drug use."
>Both from Annu Rev Physiol. 2004;66:447-75
>> GS: Hmmm…….yes, I suppose that recording from cells while an animal is
>> behaving is worthwhile, but the problems with much of behavioral
>> neuroscience,  IMO, is largely its conceptual structure. My guess is
>> that "goal cells" will eventually be seen as a silly notion, as will
>> representation (but not "mapping") and a host of other things borrowed
>> from our folk-psychology vernacular. No offense intended.
>Well it all gets rather philosophical doesn't it. I mean, science has
>never worked like how philosophers would like it to, and it never will.
>Research asking the 'wrong' questions should still come up with useful
>results, so in my mind, even if someone is experimenting on the brain
>with completely a whack hypothesis, the results shouldn't care what he
>Meanwhile, whether or not "goal cells" make any sense, or whether we
>should be talking about "goal arrays" or "goal recursive neuronal
>circuitry", if you find a correlation between two things (cell spiking
>and behavior) whether its causative or not, it is going to tell you

In a word  - NO.
David Longley

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