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

 
Culture: Rare Hundertwasser Conservation Posters Found After 40 Years

When Jan and Arnold Heine put a roll of conservation posters into storage in 1974 they had no idea that 42 years later they would be collectors items. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: The Stolen Island: Searching for ‘Ata by Scott Hamilton

Reviewed by Michael Horowitz
Located even further south than temperate Noumea, Tonga’s tiny island of ‘Ata might have become the jewel of the kingdom’s burgeoning tourist industry. Imagine a Tongan resort that would not only be mild in winter, but pleasant in summer. More>>

Reviewed by Michael Horowitz
Located even further south than temperate Noumea, Tonga’s tiny island of ‘Ata might have become the jewel of the kingdom’s burgeoning tourist industry. Imagine a Tongan resort that would not only be mild in winter, but pleasant in summer. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: No Pretence. No Bullshit. Fine Poem.

John Dickson doesn’t publish much; never has. Indeed, this new collection is his first such in 18 years. As he wryly and dryly states,

I’ve published two slim volumes, and spent all
My time working on the next.
(from Wasp p.67) More>>

Scoop Review of Books: Extraordinary Anywhere: Essays On Place From Aotearoa NZ

The New Zealand landscape undoubtedly is very beautiful, but so is the British one, and my attachment to this country is much more about some particular places, and the memories and emotions that in them combine, than it is about the landscape as a whole. More>>

Canonisation Fodder: Suzanne Aubert Declared ‘Venerable’

Suzanne Aubert, the founder of the Sisters of Compassion New Zealand’s home grown order of Sisters, has been declared ‘venerable’, a major milestone on the path to sainthood in the Catholic Church. More>>

“I Have Not Performed Well Enough”: Ernie Merrick Leaving Wellington Phoenix

Ernie Merrick has stepped down from his position as Wellington Phoenix FC Head Coach. The club would like to thank Ernie for his contribution to Wellington Phoenix and wish him all the best in his future endeavours. More>>

Ray Columbus: NZ Music Icon Passes Away

60s New Zealand music Icon Ray Columbus has passed away peacefully at his home north of Auckland... Ray Columbus enjoyed more than three decades at the top of NZ entertainment as a singer, songwriter, bandleader, music manager and TV star. More>>

Review: Bernard Herrmann's Scores For 'Vertigo' & 'Psycho'

Howard Davis: The NZSO's adventurousness was richly-rewarded, as the deeply appreciative Wellington audience was given the opportunity not only to see a couple of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, but also to hear fine renditions of two of Bernard Herrmann's most accomplished film scores. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news