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Stimulants: The Mechanics of Pleasure

Like an avenue filled with neon signs, the brain’s so-called pleasure pathway can light up or go dark, depending on what sort of stimulation it receives. This program explores the workings of the human nerve center under the influence of cocaine, amphetamines, and other stimulants, and shows how our understanding of brain disorders and drug addiction has increased by studying these drugs. Profiling the pioneering work of Bruno Giros, Gaetano Di Chiara, Nora Volkow, Wolfram Schultz, Barry Everitt, Trevor Robbins, and others, the program provides viewers with a detailed history of the discovery and development of euphoria-inducing substances. (52 minutes)

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From Coca Leaves to Cocaine and Crack
The coca plant originated in South America and was used in sacred Incan rituals. Indigenous people of Latin America have traditionally chewed the leaves of the coca plant. A chemical process transforms coca leaves into cocaine or crack.