Being in a stimulating learning environment, even for a short time, may rewire the brain's reward system and help protect against addiction, according to a new mouse study.
Scientists at the University of California-Berkeley studied cocaine cravings in 70 mice.
They found mice whose daily routine included exploration, learning and finding hidden treats were less likely than mice who didn't engage in these activities to spend time in a chamber where they had been given cocaine.
The researchers say cocaine use made less of an impact on the brains of mice who engaged in self-directed exploration and learning, UPI reports.
"Our data are exciting because they suggest that positive learning experiences, through education or play in a structured environment, could sculpt and develop brain circuits to build resilience in at-risk individuals, and that even brief cognitive interventions may be somewhat protective and last a relatively long time," senior author Linda Wilbrecht said in a news release.
The study appears in Neuropharmacology.