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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2012 Oct 1;2(10). pii: a012096. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a012096.

The neurobiology of opiate motivation.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E1, Canada.


Opiates are a highly addictive class of drugs that have been reported to possess both dopamine-dependent and dopamine-independent rewarding properties. The search for how, if at all, these distinct mechanisms of motivation are related is of great interest in drug addiction research. Recent electrophysiological, molecular, and behavioral work has greatly improved our understanding of this process. In particular, the signaling properties of GABA(A) receptors located on GABA neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) appear to be crucial to understanding the interplay between dopamine-dependent and dopamine-independent mechanisms of opiate motivation.

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