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Curr Addict Rep. 2016 Sep;3(3):332-342. Epub 2016 Jul 9.

Brain mechanisms of Change in Addictions Treatment: Models, Methods, and Emerging Findings.

Author information

University of Pittsburgh, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213,.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 5635 Fishers Lane, Bethesda, MD,.
Yale University, 950 Campbell Avenue, MIRECC 151D, West Haven, CT 06516, x7403.
Yale University, 34 Park St, New Haven, CT 06519,.
University of Colorado at Boulder, Muenzinger Psychology, 345 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309.
The Mind Research Network, The University of New Mexico, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131,.
McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 43 Vassar Street, Building 46-4033, Cambridge, MA 02139,.
Northwell Health, 1010 Northern Blvd, Great Neck, NY 11021.
McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, PO Box 100256, Gainesville, FL 32610.
Yale University, 34 Park St, New Haven, CT 06519.
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655 and Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06515, ; Fax 508-856-1977.
Department of Psychology, University of California at Los Angeles, 1285 Franz Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095.
University of Texas at Dallas Center for Brain Health, 2200 West Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, TX 75235.
Duke University, 316 Soc-psych Building, Durham, NC 27708.
Yale University, 1 Church Street, Suite 701, New Haven, CT 06525.
Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, Portland, OR 97239.


Increased understanding of "how" and "for whom" treatment works at the level of the brain has potential to transform addictions treatment through the development of innovative neuroscience-informed interventions. The 2015 Science of Change meeting bridged the fields of neuroscience and psychotherapy research to identify brain mechanisms of behavior change that are "common" across therapies, and "specific" to distinct behavioral interventions. Conceptual models of brain mechanisms underlying effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness interventions, and Motivational Interviewing were discussed. Presentations covered methods for integrating neuroimaging into psychotherapy research, and novel analytic approaches. Effects of heavy substance use on the brain, and recovery of brain functioning with sustained abstinence, which may be facilitated by cognitive training, were reviewed. Neuroimaging provides powerful tools for determining brain mechanisms underlying psychotherapy and medication effects, predicting and monitoring outcomes, developing novel interventions that target specific brain circuits, and identifying for whom an intervention will be effective.


addictive behaviors; alcohol; neuroimaging psychotherapy; substance use disorder; translational

Conflict of interest statement

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines Conflict of Interest Tammy Chung reports grants from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism during the conduct of the study. Kathleen M. Carroll reports grants and other fees from CBT4CBT LLC outside of the submitted work. In addition, Dr. Carroll has a patent Copyright issued. Sara Jo Nixon reports grants from NIAAA, during the conduct of the study. Bruce E. Wexler has a patent functionalities of brain-training programs pending. Judson Brewer reports grants from the National Institutes of Health during the conduct of the study and other fees from Claritas MindSciences outside the submitted work. Dr. Potenza reports other fees from Springer, Oxford Press & American Psychiatric Press, fees from Opiant/Lakelight Therapeutics, RiverMend Health, INSYS, Shire, grants from Pfizer, fees from Gambling and legal entities, outside the submitted work. Antonio Noronha, Kent Hutchison, Vince D. Calhoun, John D. E. Gabrieli, Jon Morgenstern, Lara Ray, Francesca Filbey, Timothy J. Strauman, Hedy Kober, and Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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