Effects of Nicotine on Brain

Topics: Dopamine, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Nicotine Pages: 12 (4120 words) Published: February 3, 2013
A Meta Analysis: Nicotine’s effects on the Neurological Disorders of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Hyperactive Activity Disorder, Schizophrenia
Nicotine has been shown to affect the disorders of OCD, ADHD and schizophrenia. A study has not been conducted to determine if previously collected data is significant enough to have nicotine used as a treatment for these disorders. Research was conducted through accessible literature to collect data of tests performed on patients with these disorders. T-tests were done on the data for all three of the disorders to determine if the application of nicotine is a significant treatment plan. The results show that nicotine has statistically significant efficacy for reducing specific symptoms across all three disorders. Most t-tests showed that there were significant improvements between the patient’s preliminary test scores and their post-treatment scores. These results show that nicotine use should be a more common treatment plan for three disorders, since it has proven to be effective, and in some trials has shown to be more effective than the currently used treatments for the disorders.

Nicotine, a chemical substance derived from the tobacco plant, alters neurological function once consumed by the human body. Nicotine plays a large role in mimicking the neurotransmitter dopamine once inside of the brain and deals with memory, cognition, perception, and a wide variety of primary functions associated with the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex (Livingstone et al., 2009). It provides a state of heightened neural activity due to more excitatory neurotransmitters present within synaptic clefts of neurons. This extra molecular presence within the synaptic gaps can lead to stabilizing and more homeostatic dopamine-like concentrations within the brain that could potentially lead to the alteration of cognitive deficits associated with neurological diseases linked to altered dopamine levels (Martin L.F et al., 2004). Such diseases include schizophrenia, attention hyperactive activity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that are currently being treated with pharmaceuticals that can create harmful, undesirable side effects such as changes in mental state and personality. A more therapeutic, less harmful drug is needed for these diseases and nicotine’s neurological effects make it a prime alternative candidate.

A study done by Perreault et al. reports that nicotine affects quinpirole receptors in the brain, which play a large role in symptoms of OCD. An increase in quinpirole is known to heighten or cause OCD symptoms. When nicotine is introduced, it inhibits the quinpirole receptors.  The study done by Tizabi et al. addresses this problem by trying to apply nicotine on QNP induced mice. The results of that experiment show that the patches did in fact help with one or more of the symptoms of OCD if nicotine was applied instead of the controls. Based on these two studies, nicotine has been shown to help with the symptoms of OCD by tampering with receptors that normally affect OCD. These two case studies also do not present any harmful side effects from the application of nicotine.

ADHD is a psychological disorder that typically affects males and is heavily related to genetics. While somewhat eased by certain medications and therapeutic treatments, ADHD causes inattention, reduces cognition and reaction time, and causes problems with stability in a typical learning environment. Though the complete biological basis of the disease is not fully known, ADHD is thought to act on the brain's dopamine receptors.  Through the chemical imbalances that result from this, patients of ADHD typically display highly energetic personalities. As a result, those diagnosed with ADHD have difficulty with focusing on tasks. For this reason, nicotine will be explored as a potential remedy of ADHD's cognitive symptoms, in hopes that its ability to...
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