The impact of orbitofrontal dysfunction on cocaine addiction

Nat Neurosci. 2012 Jan 22;15(3):358-66. doi: 10.1038/nn.3014.


Cocaine addiction is characterized by poor judgment and maladaptive decision-making. Here we review evidence implicating the orbitofrontal cortex in such behavior. This evidence suggests that cocaine-induced changes in orbitofrontal cortex disrupt the representation of states and transition functions that form the basis of flexible and adaptive 'model-based' behavioral control. By impairing this function, cocaine exposure leads to an overemphasis on less flexible, maladaptive 'model-free' control systems. We propose that such an effect accounts for the complex pattern of maladaptive behaviors associated with cocaine addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / etiology*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Reinforcement, Psychology