Presented by Shay Neufeld
Opiates, the class of molecules that includes morphine, heroin, and codeine, are arguably the most addicting drugs known to exist. This class of drugs has single-handedly started wars, forced international laws, and to this day is responsible for more drug-overdose deaths in the USA than every other drug of abuse combined. How do opiates do this? To exercise their profound influence on reward and behavior, these molecules hijack a natural system of reward in a brain area known as the striatum. What functions does the striatum normally carry out, and how does the presence of opiates in this brain region cause addiction? This talk will explore what roles the striatum normally plays in governing behavior and why it makes sense that the presence of opiates in the striatum act to powerfully inflict addiction. Along the way, I hope to provide some insight into how the root of addiction, the inflexibility of OCD, and the admirable ability of riding a bike are all deeply related in the brain.