Alcohol-associated stimuli activate the ventral striatum in abstinent alcoholics.
ABSTRACT Alcohol-associated cues may act as conditioned stimuli that activate the brain reward system and motivate alcohol intake in alcoholics. Alcohol-associated visual stimuli were presented during functional magnetic resonance imaging. An activation of the ventral putamen was observed in alcoholics but not in control subjects. Patients with a strong activation of the ventral putamen relapsed during the next three months. This observation supports the hypothesis that alcohol use affects areas involved in brain reward circuits and that their stimulus-induced activation may be associated with an increased risk for relapse.
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ABSTRACT: This paper presents a biopsychological theory of drug addiction, the ‘Incentive-Sensitization Theory’. The theory addresses three fundamental questions. The first is: why do addicts crave drugs? That is, what is the psychological and neurobiological basis of drug craving? The second is: why does drug craving persist even after long periods of abstinence? The third is whether ‘wanting’ drugs (drug craving) is attributable to ‘liking’ drugs (to the subjective pleasurable effects of drugs)? The theory posits the following. 1.(1) Addictive drugs share the ability to enhance mesotelencephalic dopamine neurotransmission.2.(2) One psychological function of this neural system is to attribute ‘incentive salience’ to the perception and mental representation of events associated with activation of the system. Incentive salience is a psychological process that transforms the perception of stimuli, imbuing them with salience, making them attractive, ‘wanted’, incentive stimuli.3.(3) In some individuals the repeated use of addictive drugs produces incremental neuroadaptations in this neural system, rendering it increasingly and perhaps permanently, hypersensitive (‘sensitized’) to drugs and drug-associated stimuli. The sensitization of dopamine systems is gated by associative learning, which causes excessive incentive salience to be attributed to the act of drug taking and to stimuli associated with drug taking. It is specifically the sensitization of incentive salience, therefore, that transforms ordinary ‘wanting’ into excessive drug craving.4.(4) It is further proposed that sensitization of the neural systems responsible for incentive salience (for ‘wanting’) can occur independently of changes in neural systems that mediate the subjective pleasurable effects of drugs (drug ‘liking’) and of neural systems that mediate withdrawal. Thus, sensitization of incentive salience can produce addictive behavior (compulsive drug seeking and drug taking) even if the expectation of drug pleasure or the aversive properties of withdrawal are diminished and even in the face of strong disincentives, including the loss of reputation, job, home and family. We review evidence for this view of addiction and discuss its implications for understanding the psychology and neurobiology of addiction.Brain Research Reviews 01/1993; · 7.82 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The capacity to predict future events permits a creature to detect, model, and manipulate the causal structure of its interactions with its environment. Behavioral experiments suggest that learning is driven by changes in the expectations about future salient events such as rewards and punishments. Physiological work has recently complemented these studies by identifying dopaminergic neurons in the primate whose fluctuating output apparently signals changes or errors in the predictions of future salient and rewarding events. Taken together, these findings can be understood through quantitative theories of adaptive optimizing control.Science 03/1997; 275(5306):1593-1599. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Disturbances in central nervous system serotonin (5-HT) have been implicated in the pathophysiology of alcoholism. To test the hypothesis that increasing 5-HT function could promote treatment compliance, we randomized patients who had completed a 5-week inpatient treatment program for alcoholism to receive either buspirone or placebo for 1 year. Ten of the 49 patients remained in the study for the entire year. The days to relapse did not differ significantly between patients receiving buspirone or placebo. Regardless of the medication, late-onset alcoholics had a longer time to relapse than early-onset alcoholics. Cerebrospinal fluid showed that patients with high concentrations of both the 5-HT metabolite, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, and the dopamine metabolite, homovanillic acid, were more likely to relapse, compared with patients with low concentrations of cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid and homovanillic acid.Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 03/1999; 23(2):272-8. · 3.42 Impact Factor