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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 Apr 1;173:151-158. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.12.028. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

The cerebellum in drug craving.

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Psychobiology, Universitat Jaume I, Castellon de la Plana, Spain.
Psychobiology, Universitat Jaume I, Castellon de la Plana, Spain. Electronic address:


Craving has been considered one of the core features of addiction. It can be defined as the urge or conscious desire to use a drug elicited by the drug itself, drug-associated cues or stressors. Craving plays a major role in relapse, even after prolonged periods of abstinence, as well as in the maintenance of drug seeking in non-abstinent addicts. The circuitry of craving includes medial parts of the prefrontal cortex, ventral striatal zones, ventral tegmental area, ventral pallidum, and limbic regions. Interestingly, the cerebellum shows reciprocal loops with many of these areas. The cerebellum has been linked traditionally to motor functions but increasing evidence indicates that this part of the brain is also involved in functions related to cognition, prediction, learning, and memory. Moreover, the functional neuroimaging studies that have addressed the study of craving in humans repeatedly demonstrate cerebellar activation when craving is elicited by the presentation of drug-related cues. However, the role of cerebellar activity in these craving episodes remains unknown. Therefore, the main goal of this review is to provide a brief update on craving studies and the traditional neural basis of this phenomenon, and then discuss and propose a hypothesis for the function of the cerebellum in craving episodes.


Cerebellum; Craving; Cue reactivity; Expectations; Memory; Prediction

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