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Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2012;52:321-36. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010611-134625. Epub 2011 Sep 27.

Addiction circuitry in the human brain.

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1
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA. nvolkow@nida.nih.gov

Abstract

A major challenge in understanding substance-use disorders lies in uncovering why some individuals become addicted when exposed to drugs, whereas others do not. Although genetic, developmental, and environmental factors are recognized as major contributors to a person's risk of becoming addicted, the neurobiological processes that underlie this vulnerability are still poorly understood. Imaging studies suggest that individual variations in key dopamine-modulated brain circuits, including circuits involved in reward, memory, executive function, and motivation, contribute to some of the differences in addiction vulnerability. A better understanding of the main circuits affected by chronic drug use and the influence of social stressors, developmental trajectories, and genetic background on these circuits is bound to lead to a better understanding of addiction and to more effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of substance-use disorders.

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