A neurocognitive approach to understanding the neurobiology of addiction

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2013 Aug;23(4):632-8. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2013.01.018. Epub 2013 Feb 8.


Recent concepts of addiction to drugs (e.g. cocaine) and non-drugs (e.g. gambling) have proposed that these behaviors are the product of an imbalance between three separate, but interacting, neural systems: an impulsive, largely amygdala-striatum dependent, neural system that promotes automatic, habitual and salient behaviors; a reflective, mainly prefrontal cortex dependent, neural system for decision-making, forecasting the future consequences of a behavior, and inhibitory control; and the insula that integrates interoception states into conscious feelings and into decision-making processes that are involved in uncertain risk and reward. These systems account for poor decision-making (i.e. prioritizing short-term consequences of a decisional option) leading to more elevated addiction risk and relapse. This article provides neural evidence for this three-systems neural model of addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / etiology
  • Neurobiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / pathology*