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Nicotine rises gradually in brain

  • Published
    29th Jun, 2022
Context
A recent study had showed how cigarette smokers kicked the habit spontaneously after they suffered a brain stroke or injury.
  • It shows effects to map regions in the brain that control addiction of any kind. 
Background
  • Nicotine is an alkaloid that is found in certain plants, such as the Nicotiana tabacum plant that is used to produce tobacco products.
  • Nicotine dependence is a chronic, relapsing disease defined as a compulsive craving to use the drug, despite social consequences, loss of control over drug intake, and emergence of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Tolerance is another component of drug dependence.
  • The most commonly used tobacco product is cigarettes, but all forms of tobacco use can cause dependence.
  • Nicotine dependence is a serious public health problem because it leads to continued tobacco use and is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide, causing more than 8 million deaths per year.

How Brain Networks are linked with Nicotine dependence?

  • Repeated exposure to nicotine can cause an increase in the number of nicotinic receptors, which is believed to be a result of receptor desensitization and subsequent receptor upregulation.
  • This upregulation or increase in the number of nicotinic receptors significantly alters the functioning of the brain reward system.
  • When these receptors are not occupied by nicotine, they are believed to produce withdrawal symptoms.
  • These symptoms can include cravings for nicotine, anger, irritability, anxiety, depression, impatience, trouble sleeping, restlessness, hunger, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Neuroplasticity within the brain's reward system occurs as a result of long-term nicotine use, leading to nicotine dependence.
  • There are genetic risk factors for developing dependence also.

What is Neuroplasticity?

  • Neuroplasticity, also known as neural plasticity, or brain plasticity, is the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization.
  • It is when the brain is rewired to function in some way that differs from how it previously functioned.
  • These changes range from individual neuron pathways making new connections, to systematic adjustments like cortical remapping.
  • Examples of neuroplasticity include circuit and network changes that result from learning a new ability, environmental influences, practice, and psychological stress.

Concern with Nicotine

  • Nicotine dependence results in substantial mortality, morbidity, and socio-economic impacts.
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