NIDA Conference Highlights Advances and Future Directions in the Neuroscience of Drug Abuse
The 2003 Frontiers in Addiction Research mini-convention brought together participants from diverse scientific disciplines to share advances and discuss future directions in the neuroscience of drug abuse and related areas. Many of the discoveries hold great promise for helping NIDA achieve its goal: to significantly reduce the health and social consequences of drug abuse and addiction throughout the United States. The application of NIDA-supported neuroscience research will enable even greater advances vital to reducing drug abuse, addiction, and their related consequences.
During the Endocannabinoids section of the program, presenters discussed the central mechanisms that mediate activities of the endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids, as well as the functional impact of these activities. The Trafficking portion of the program centered on the mechanisms that govern when, why, and how receptor and transporter proteins move within a cell. Presentations on Embryogenesis highlighted several ways in which recent advances in developmental biology can help researchers better understand aspects of prenatal drug exposure and addiction. The Signal Transduction portion of the program concerned recent discoveries that provide a detailed biochemical characterization of the intracellular signaling cascades involved in drug-induced changes in synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity. In the section on Impulsivity, presenters discussed ways in which impulsivity may play a role in drug abuse. In the Reward Mechanisms segment, researchers focused on identifying the neurobiological substrates involved in learning, motivation, and memory with regard to natural rewards. Presentations in the Dopamine Transporter section addressed ways in which the dopamine transporter may function as a multimer or an ion channel, in association with regulatory proteins and human disease.