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Deep brain stimulation as a treatment for substance addiction

Kromojahjo, Lynn (2019) Deep brain stimulation as a treatment for substance addiction. Bachelor's Thesis, Life Science and Technology.


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Substance addiction is a disorder associated with intense feelings of craving, tolerance to the substance and withdrawal symptoms when substance use is being reduced. The reward system, including the Nucleus Accumbens (NAc) and the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA), is highly involved in the development of addiction. Multiple therapies already exist, of which Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used. Despite this, still half of CBT-treated patients remain addicted and have had relapses during or after therapy. It is time to consider a treatment that focuses on the neurobiology of addiction rather than its psychology. Therefore, this thesis will look at Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) as a possible treatment for substance addiction. DBS is an already accepted treatment for different neurological disorders and is based on electrical stimulation through electrodes placed within structures deep in the brain. Even though the exact mechanism behind DBS is not discovered yet, it is likely that stimulation is able to induce synaptic and neuronal plasticity and to alter neuronal activity and neurotransmitter release. It is possible that DBS in addiction counteracts the downregulated dopamine (DA) receptors, together with normalization of prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity and a decrease of ΔFosB expression in the NAc. A variety of studies, both animal and human addiction models, demonstrated the successfulness of DBS. In general, no severe side-effects arise from stimulation itself, but surgical and hardware-related risks are still present and should be taken into account. DBS can be regarded as a safe treatment with positive results for the treated patients. However, DBS is a drastic intervention because of the required surgery and highly needed monitoring after initiation. Therefore it is concluded that DBS is a very promising treatment but is not expected to become the most preferred one in substance addiction.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Supervisor nameSupervisor E mail
Degree programme: Life Science and Technology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2019
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2019 09:08

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