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Trends Neurosci. 2006 Feb;29(2):116-24. Epub 2006 Jan 6.

Orbitofrontal cortex, decision-making and drug addiction.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 20 Penn Street, HSF-2 S251, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


The orbitofrontal cortex, as a part of prefrontal cortex, is implicated in executive function. However, within this broad region, the orbitofrontal cortex is distinguished by its unique pattern of connections with crucial subcortical associative learning nodes, such as basolateral amygdala and nucleus accumbens. By virtue of these connections, the orbitofrontal cortex is uniquely positioned to use associative information to project into the future, and to use the value of perceived or expected outcomes to guide decisions. This review will discuss recent evidence that supports this proposal and will examine evidence that loss of this signal, as the result of drug-induced changes in these brain circuits, might account for the maladaptive decision-making that characterizes drug addiction.

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