The contributions of cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging to understanding mechanisms of behavior change in addiction

Psychol Addict Behav. 2013 Jun;27(2):336-50. doi: 10.1037/a0032435. Epub 2013 Apr 15.


In the last decade, there has been an upsurge of interest in understanding the mechanisms of behavior change (MOBC) and effective behavioral interventions as a strategy to improve addiction-treatment efficacy. However, there remains considerable uncertainty about how treatment research should proceed to address the MOBC issue. In this article, we argue that limitations in the underlying models of addiction that inform behavioral treatment pose an obstacle to elucidating MOBC. We consider how advances in the cognitive neuroscience of addiction offer an alternative conceptual and methodological approach to studying the psychological processes that characterize addiction, and how such advances could inform treatment process research. In addition, we review neuroimaging studies that have tested aspects of neurocognitive theories as a strategy to inform addiction therapies and discuss future directions for transdisciplinary collaborations across cognitive neuroscience and MOBC research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Behavior, Addictive* / physiopathology
  • Behavior, Addictive* / psychology
  • Behavior, Addictive* / therapy
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Neurosciences*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Research Design
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome