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Am J Bioeth. 2007 Jan;7(1):8-11.

The neurobiology of addiction: implications for voluntary control of behavior.

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Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


There continues to be a debate on whether addiction is best understood as a brain disease or a moral condition. This debate, which may influence both the stigma attached to addiction and access to treatment, is often motivated by the question of whether and to what extent we can justly hold addicted individuals responsible for their actions. In fact, there is substantial evidence for a disease model, but the disease model per se does not resolve the question of voluntary control. Recent research at the intersection of neuroscience and psychology suggests that addicted individuals have substantial impairments in cognitive control of behavior, but this "loss of control" is not complete or simple. Possible mechanisms and implications are briefly reviewed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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