Friday, September 01, 2006


At a purely chemical level, every experience humans find enjoyable - whether listening to music, embracing a lover, or savoring chocolate - amounts to little more than an explosion of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens as exhilarating and ephemeral as a firecracker.

--J Madelaine Nash

While music, love, and chocolate are more or less harmless, nicotine is another pleasure of sorts that results in a burst of dopamine from the nucleus accumbens (NA) deep in the brain. The new anti-smoking drug Chantix is designed to occupy nicotinic receptors in the NA, stimulating the release of a little dopamine but not a big surge. As a result, ex-smokers get a smooth dopamine lift but no cigarette-charged rush, thus allowing them to kick the habit without seeking out other big-time dopamine dischargers such as chocolate and ice cream.

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