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Neurobiological processes in addiction 

Neurobiological processes in addiction
Neurobiological processes in addiction

David J. Nutt

and Liam J. Nestor

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date: 13 June 2021

The brain is involved in controlling necessary motivational and cognitive processes optimized for survival. These processes can be disrupted by substances of addiction. The key neural substrates underlying these processes are made up of a network of four independent and overlapping brain circuits. These circuits govern reward processing, motivation and/or drive, learning and memory, and cognitive control. Anomalies within these circuits may also pre-date the addiction state, and facilitate the progress from experimentation to substance addiction. The subsequent excessive and chronic use of substances further exacerbates these abnormalities. Therefore, these brain circuits and key psychological processes related to their functioning must be understood if we are to develop and test new pharmacological and psychological treatment approaches in substance addiction.

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