In a study conducted with laboratory animals, researchers investigated the compound CDPPB as a way to control contextual memories — such as recollection of environments where drugs were commonly used — to help the brain make new, more benign associations, Science Daily reported April 24.
“In this study, we found that after repeatedly giving cocaine injections to rats within a particular environment, the rats developed a strong preference for that environment over another environment where a placebo was given,” said M. Foster Olive, co-author of the study. “Next, we treated the animals with an experimental drug called CDPPB, and found that it decreased the rats’ preference for the cocaine-associated environment during subsequent tests.”
The process, called extinction learning, helps the brain create new associations instead of retrieving old associations. Olive said that the finding may aid the development of new therapeutic treatments that could be used in conjunction with exposure therapy.
The study appeared in the April 2009 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry.