Brain facts, a primer on the brain and nervous system by The Society for Neuroscience

By The Society for Neuroscience

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Opiates create effects like those elicited by the naturally occurring Alzheimer’s disease One of the most frightening and devastating of all neurological opioid peptides. They relieve pain, depress breathing, cause nausea and disorders is the dementia that occurs in the elderly. The most com- vomiting, and stop diarrhea — important medical uses. In large doses, mon cause of this illness is Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Rare before heroin can make breathing shallow or stop altogether — the cause of age 60 but increasingly prevalent in each decade thereafter, AD death in thousands of people who have died of heroin overdose.

These neurons are connected to predict who will become an alcoholic. the nucleus accumbens and other areas, such as the prefrontal cortex. Cocaine Alcohol activates the endogenous opioid system so that sus- exerts its effects mainly through this system. Opiates act in this system and many ceptible individuals may feel an opioidlike euphoria from their own other brain regions, including the amygdala, that normally use opioid peptides. endorphins when they drink. Based on animal research showing Opioids are naturally occurring brain chemicals that induce the same actions as that opiate receptors were involved in the dopamine-reward activa- drugs, such as heroin and morphine.

New brain imaging strategies promise to enable doctors to monia or some other complication of immobility. AD, which in visualize AD neuropathology during life. At present, however, final 40 Brain Facts | neural disorders: advances and challenges Society for Neuroscience confirmation of the diagnosis requires examination of brain tissue, ate caution must be taken. Experimental therapies in models of usually obtained at autopsy. other neurodegenerative diseases — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, The causes and mechanisms of the brain abnormalities underlying AD are not yet fully understood, but great progress has been made through genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, and experimental for example — have been effective in mice but not in humans with the disease.

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