The brains ability to retain memory takes a beating with morphine, a study has shown. Researchers from Brown University feel that this discovery could have implications in the development of addiction therapy.
To understand the effects of morphine on the brain, researchers demonstrated the ability of morphine to impede the brain's capacity to energize the inhibitory synapse connections. During trials conducted on rats, it became evident that even a single dose of morphine was found to be potent enough to impede long-term potentiation, even after 24 hrs of the drug in the animal's body, when the crucial effect is thought to have faded out.
Long-term potentiation or LTP assists with information storage in the brain, and connections between neurons called synapses are strengthened with repeated stimulation. The study showed that the synapses occurred between inhibitory neurons and dopamine neurons.
The inhibitory cells in a healthy brain were able to contain the release of dopamine, which is called the "pleasure chemical" that is usually released as a response to a gratifying experience. Alcohol or cocaine also had a similar effect, due to the release of dopamine triggered by the intoxicant.
The study is published in the Journal Nature.