World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Nora Volkow

Article Id: WHEBN0011066555
Reproduction Date:

Title: Nora Volkow  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Russian immigration to Mexico, Leon Trotsky, William Pollin, ACS Chemical Neuroscience, Flashblood
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Nora Volkow

Nora Volkow in 2009.

Nora Volkow (born 27 March 1956) is a Mexican-American psychiatrist.[1] She is currently the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). She is the great-granddaughter of Russian revolutionary leader and Head of the Fourth International, Leon Trotsky. Her father Esteban Volkov is the son of Leon Trotsky’s elder daughter.[2]

Born in Mexico City, Volkow and her three sisters grew up in the house where Trotsky was killed.[2] She attended the Modern American School, then earned a medical degree from National University of Mexico before going to New York University for psychiatric residency. She chose a career in brain research after reading an article on the use of positron emission tomography in studying brain function. She did research at Brookhaven National Laboratory before becoming director of NIDA in 2003.[2]


Her imaging studies of the brains of people addicted to drugs have helped to clarify the mechanisms of drug addiction. This research has aimed to change the public's view of drug addiction, from that of a moral violation or character flaw to an understanding that pathological changes to brain structure make it very difficult for addicts to give up their addictions.[2] Volkow has shown that abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex of addicts create a feeling of need or craving that addicts know is irrational but find it difficult to prevent. Prefrontal abnormalities also make it difficult to override compulsions to take drugs by exercising cognitive control. The main areas affected are the orbitofrontal cortex, which maintains attention to goals, and the anterior cingulate cortex, that mediates the capacity to monitor and select action plans. Both areas receive stimulation from dopamine centers lower in the brain. A steady influx of dopamine makes it difficult for addicts to shift their attention away from the goal of attaining drugs. It also fastens their attention to the motivational value of drugs, even though these drugs have long stopped providing pleasure. It is now understood that dopamine activation does not signal pleasure. Rather, it signals the importance or relevance of sought-after goals. Volkow's work suggests that addicts have difficulty turning their attention and actions away from the goal of acquiring and consuming drugs. They are caught, she states, in a vicious circle of physical brain changes and the psychological consequences of those changes, leading to further changes.


  1. ^ Zuger, Abigail. "A General in the Drug War". New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Zuger, A. A General in the Drug War. New York Times, June 13, 2011.

External links

  • Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director's Page, National Institute of Drug Abuse
  • Nora Volkow on Diane Rehm
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Hooked: Why Bad Habits are Hard to Break on 60 Minutes
  • Nora Volkow: Two Paths to the Future (Vanderbilt University Medical Center Article - February 2006)
  • Works by or about Nora Volkow in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Nora Volkow - the Time 100, 2007
  • NIDA's New Leader JAMA
  • Why Is It So Damn Hard to Change? by Rebecca Skloot, O, the Oprah Magazine
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.