Opiate withdrawal behavior after focal brain stimulation.
Electrical stimulation of the brainstem abolishes pain, while continued stimulation induces tolerance to the analgesic effect. Analgesic drugs producing tolerance also induce physical dependence, suggesting that the phenomenon of tolerance is associated with addiction. There is evidence that the neural mechanism for stimulation-produced analgesia is related to the release of opiate substances within the brain. We therefore propose that repeated or protracted brain stimulation elicits dependence upon the endorphins released by electrical stimulation of the neurons themselves. To investigate this possibility, rats were given repetitive bursts of analgesic electrical brain stimulation for two hours. Immediately thereafter, they were injected with the opiate antagonist, naloxone. Behaviors associated with low grade opiate withdrawal were observed. These data suggest that prolonged analgesic stimulation can result in naloxone-precipitated behaviors similar to the behaviors exhibited during opiate withdrawal.
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