Memory and addiction: shared neural circuitry and molecular mechanisms

Neuron. 2004 Sep 30;44(1):161-79. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2004.09.016.


An important conceptual advance in the past decade has been the understanding that the process of drug addiction shares striking commonalities with neural plasticity associated with natural reward learning and memory. Basic mechanisms involving dopamine, glutamate, and their intracellular and genomic targets have been the focus of attention in this research area. These two neurotransmitter systems, widely distributed in many regions of cortex, limbic system, and basal ganglia, appear to play a key integrative role in motivation, learning, and memory, thus modulating adaptive behavior. However, many drugs of abuse exert their primary effects precisely on these pathways and are able to induce enduring cellular alterations in motivational networks, thus leading to maladaptive behaviors. Current theories and research on this topic are reviewed from an integrative systems perspective, with special emphasis on cellular, molecular, and behavioral aspects of dopamine D-1 and glutamate NMDA signaling, instrumental learning, and drug cue conditioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / genetics
  • Behavior, Addictive / metabolism*
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*