Caffeine is just another Drug of Abuse

Posted on January 30, 2012 by

“Arousal effect of caffeine depends on adenosine A2A receptors in the shell of the nucleus accumbens” J. Neuroscience, 2011.

What? Ok, sounds basic. Caffeine affects specific receptors.

A chemical is only as good as its receptor, and that receptor is only as good as where it’s located, where those neurons are going, and what they connect to. In this case, we know that 2A Adenosine receptors are very densely located in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain known for its role in things like locomotor activity, arousal (which may be awake, but may also mean alert to stimuli), and responses to rewarding stimuli such as drugs of abuse.

So if caffeine and psychostimulants like cocaine work in the same brain areas, the basal ganglia, and both affect dopamine, why is one so much less addictive than the other?

So basically we’re all crackheads. Which explains everything and nothing.

[Via The Scicurious Brain, Scientific American Blog Network]