Adolescent Drug Addiction
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Mechanisms underlying the disruption in decision-making and reward-seeking behaviors are due to regulation of dopamine in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Present in the VTA are ⍺6 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunits that control dopamine release and psychostimulant use in adults. It is unknown whether ⍺6 nAChRs (CHRNA6) influence psychostimulant use during adolescence, a sensitive period in which CHRNA6 peaks in expression which may lead to unique developmental drug effects on the maturing limbic system.