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Friday, July 12, 2013

NIH study identifies brain circuits involved in learning and decision making

Finding has implications for alcoholism and other patterns of addictive behavior

Research from the National Institutes of Health has identified neural circuits in mice that are involved in the ability to learn and alter behaviors. The findings help to explain the brain processes that govern choice and the ability to adapt behavior based on the end results.

Researchers think this might provide insight into patterns of compulsive behavior such as alcoholism and other addictions.

“Much remains to be understood about exactly how the brain strikes the balance between learning a behavioral response that is consistently rewarded, versus retaining the flexibility to switch to a new, better response,” said Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., acting director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “These findings give new insight into the process and how it can go awry.”

The study, published online in Nature Neuroscience, indicates that specific circuits in the forebrain play a critical role in choice and adaptive learning.  > > > >  Read More