Author(s): Belin D, Jonkman S, Dickinson A, Robbins TW, Everitt BJ, Belin D, Jonkman S, Dickinson A, Robbins TW, Everitt BJ
Abstract Share this page
Abstract In this review we discuss the evidence that drug addiction, defined as a maladaptive compulsive habit, results from the progressive subversion by addictive drugs of striatum-dependent operant and Pavlovian learning mechanisms that are usually involved in the control over behaviour by stimuli associated with natural reinforcement. Although mainly organized through segregated parallel cortico-striato-pallido-thalamo-cortical loops involved in motor or emotional functions, the basal ganglia, and especially the striatum, are key mediators of the modulation of behavioural responses, under the control of both action-outcome and stimulus-response mechanisms, by incentive motivational processes and Pavlovian associations. Here we suggest that protracted exposure to addictive drugs recruits serial and dopamine-dependent, striato-nigro-striatal ascending spirals from the nucleus accumbens to more dorsal regions of the striatum that underlie a shift from action-outcome to stimulus-response mechanisms in the control over drug seeking. When this progressive ventral to dorsal striatum shift is combined with drug-associated Pavlovian influences from limbic structures such as the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex, drug seeking behaviour becomes established as an incentive habit. This instantiation of implicit sub-cortical processing of drug-associated stimuli and instrumental responding might be a key mechanism underlying the development of compulsive drug seeking and the high vulnerability to relapse which are hallmarks of drug addiction.
This article was published in Behav Brain Res
and referenced in Journal of Neurology & Neurophysiology