Nicotine-Induced Long-Term In Vivo Synaptic Plasticity


Dopamine Enables In Vivo Synaptic Plasticity Associated with the Addictive Drug Nicotine

This article from ScienceDirect does a great job at analyzing data and showing how the plasticity of the brain is affected with release of dopamine with nicotine. You may have heard about the plasticity of the brain or neuroplasticity in the past, the reason plasticity is important is because higher plasticity is generally associated with learning and memory, which are arguably the most important functions the brain towards any activity or projects.
There are some important points that stand out from this article that lead to further research:
“Therefore, the nicotine-induced synaptic potentiation outlasted the presence of nicotine by hours.”
How long does this actually last and if there is a way of accurately measuring it remains to be seen. “The results suggest that as information continually flows through the perforant path to the hippocampus, the DA signal provides a time stamp that labels particular events for storage as memories.”
Makes you wonder how many people actually know how incredible our brains are and what else can be discovered; any way or aid such as perhaps visual aids to be able to access all those time stamps in a consistent fashion?

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These 2 points really show how mechanical some aspects of the brain are and the effects can be reproduced in a consistent fashion. “A recent fMRI study of addicted smokers showed that cues related to smoking elicit neural activity in regions linked to attention, memory, emotion, and motivation (Smolka et al., 2006).”
The term “addicted smokers” implies a indirect trade off for the benefits. There is no need to trade off health for improved cognition, which is what happens with every cigarette smoked: lung and DNA damage traded with dopamine benefits, which lead to improved plasticity, which lead to improved attention, memory, emotion and motivation.

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