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Annu Rev Psychol. 2008;59:29-53.

Addiction and the brain antireward system.

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  • 1Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA. gkoob@scripps.edu

Abstract

A neurobiological model of the brain emotional systems has been proposed to explain the persistent changes in motivation that are associated with vulnerability to relapse in addiction, and this model may generalize to other psychopathology associated with dysregulated motivational systems. In this framework, addiction is conceptualized as a cycle of decreased function of brain reward systems and recruitment of antireward systems that progressively worsen, resulting in the compulsive use of drugs. Counteradaptive processes, such as opponent process, that are part of the normal homeostatic limitation of reward function fail to return within the normal homeostatic range and are hypothesized to repeatedly drive the allostatic state. Excessive drug taking thus results in not only the short-term amelioration of the reward deficit but also suppression of the antireward system. However, in the long term, there is worsening of the underlying neurochemical dysregulations that ultimately form an allostatic state (decreased dopamine and opioid peptide function, increased corticotropin-releasing factor activity). This allostatic state is hypothesized to be reflected in a chronic deviation of reward set point that is fueled not only by dysregulation of reward circuits per se but also by recruitment of brain and hormonal stress responses. Vulnerability to addiction may involve genetic comorbidity and developmental factors at the molecular, cellular, or neurocircuitry levels that sensitize the brain antireward systems.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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