Incentive-sensitization disease model of addiction
Singer, Bryan F. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Robinson, Terry E. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Environmental stimuli and cues
- Self-administration studies
- Brain and neuronal activity
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Drug addiction is a disorder in which compulsive patterns of drug-taking and drug-seeking behavior occur despite negative consequences. Dysfunctions in both cognitive and behavioral patterns are common in the disorder. The incentive-sensitization theory of addiction describes how drug-induced changes in the brain may contribute to the transition from casual drug use to addiction. According to this theory, repeated exposure to drugs of abuse promotes the progressive sensitization of neuronal activation within specific brain reward circuitry. For example, animal models of drug abuse suggest that hyperactivation (sensitization) of dopamine (DA) signaling [dopaminergic neurotransmission] within a brain region known as the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) may underlie the transition from experimental to excessive (sensitized) self-administration of a drug. Sensitized self-administration of a drug is thought to be attributable to compulsive drug “wanting” and craving, and it is dissociable from simple “liking” of a drug, which may decrease with repeated drug use.
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