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Eur J Neurosci. 1999 Mar;11(3):1042-8.

Activation of reward circuitry in human opiate addicts.

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National Addiction Centre, London SE5 8AF, London, UK.


The neurobiological mechanisms of opiate addictive behaviour in humans are unknown. A proposed model of addiction implicates ascending brainstem neuromodulatory systems, particularly dopamine. Using functional neuroimaging, we assessed the neural response to heroin and heroin-related cues in established opiate addicts. We show that the effect of both heroin and heroin-related visual cues are maximally expressed in the sites of origin of ascending midbrain neuromodulatory systems. These context-specific midbrain activations predict responses to salient visual cues in cortical and subcortical regions implicated in reward-related behaviour. These findings implicate common neurobiological processes underlying drug and drug-cue-related effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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