News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Visiting expert to help drug addicts

Visiting expert to help drug addicts and people with research psychiatric disorders

July 9, 2013

A UK expert visiting the University of Canterbury (UC) is researching psychiatric disorders and drug addiction so she can develop treatments that erase maladaptive memories.

Dr Amy Milton from the University of Cambridge is examining memory reconsolidation, which underlies memory persistence and the updating of memories at retrieval.

The Cambridge scientist has found that by disrupting or erasing memories associated with drug use during recall she could prevent the memories from triggering relapses and further drug-taking.

``Being able to erase memories may be useful in treating psychiatric disorders. Many disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and drug addiction, persist in part because of strong emotional memories which are ultimately maladaptive.

``These memories link information about environmental cues - people, places, specific objects - and an emotional state such as fear for PTSD and craving for addiction. These memories underlie the persistent fear and anxiety seen in PTSD, and increase the risk of relapse in a previously drug-addicted person who is trying to remain abstinent.

``So far, my work has demonstrated that preventing specific types of chemical signalling in the brain, using drugs that block the receptors of these signals while the memory is in the active state, prevents the memory from reconsolidating and so disrupts the memory.

``This means that a single behavioural and pharmacological treatment has a long-term effect on behaviour. In our research we have seen a reduced risk of relapse that persists for at least a month after the treatment.

``We think that this novel way of treating addiction and PTSD could be very useful therapeutically, especially when used alongside other forms of therapy. We are now in the process of moving to the next step with small-scale experimental medical trials.’’

Dr Milton says, traditionally, memory was viewed as similar to a book, which could be shelved but never changed once printed. She believes memory is more like a word processing document which could be saved and then recalled.

``Our results suggest that efforts should be made to develop drugs that could be given in a controlled clinical or treatment environment in which addicts would have their most potent drug memories reactivated.

``Such treatments would be expected to diminish the effects of those memories in the future and help individuals resist relapse and maintain their abstinence.

``This is an exciting new approach to the treatment of drug addiction that has great potential.’’

Dr Milton is an Erskine visitor to UC. The Erskine fellowship programme was established in 1963 following a generous bequest by former distinguished UC student John Erskine. She will be researching with Dr Juan Canales at UC’s Psychology Department.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Architecture:
Ian Athfield Dies In Wellington

New Zealand Institute of Architects: It is with great sadness that we inform Members that Sir Ian Athfield, one of New Zealand's finest architects, has passed away in Wellington. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington Production: New-Look Tracy Brothers Are F.A.B.

ITV and New Zealand’s Pukeko Pictures today released an exclusive preview of the new-look Tracy brothers from this year’s hotly anticipated new series, Thunderbirds Are Go. More>>

ALSO:

Cardinal Numbers:
Pope Francis Names Archbishop From NZ Among New Cardinals

Announcing a list of bishops to be made Cardinals in February Pope Francis named Archbishop John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington, overnight from Rome. On hearing the news of the announcement, Archbishop John Dew said "This news is recognition of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the contribution it makes to the global Catholic family." More>>

ALSO:

Nomenclature: Charlotte And Oliver Top Baby Names For 2014

Charlotte and Oliver were the most popular names for newborn girls and boys in 2014... The top 100 girls’ and boys’ names make up a small proportion of the more than 12,000 unique first names registered for children born this year, says Jeff Montgomery, Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriage. More>>

Werewolf: Katniss Joins The News Team

From the outset, the Hunger Games series has dwelt obsessively on the ways that media images infiltrate our public and personal lives... From that grim starting point, Mockingjay Part One takes the process a few stages further. There is very little of the film that does not involve the characters (a) being on screens (b) making propaganda footage to be screened and (c) reacting to what other characters have been doing on screens. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Ko Witi Te Kaituhituhi

Witi Ihimaera, the distinguished Māori author and the first Māori to publish a book of short stories and a novel, has adopted a new genre with his latest book. But despite its subtitle, this book is a great deal more than a memoir of childhood. More>>

Werewolf: Rescuing Paul Robeson

Would it be any harder these days, for the US government to destroy the career of a famous American entertainer and disappear them from history – purely because of their political beliefs? You would hope so. In 1940, Paul Robeson – a gifted black athlete, singer, film star, Shakespearean actor and orator – was one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. More>>

ALSO:

"Not A Competition... A Quest": Chapman Tripp Theatre Award Winners

Big winners on the night were Equivocation (Promising Newcomer, Best Costume, Best Director and Production of the Year), Kiss the Fish (Best Music Composition, Outstanding New NZ Play and Best Supporting Actress), and Watch (Best Set, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Performance). More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news