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Decision-makers seek internal balance, not balanced alternatives
Date:10/25/2007

The same brain structures implicated in the urge to take drugs are involved in other biological urges, Paulus added, suggesting that a homeostatic approach could have a broad impact on treatments that seek to control addictions or psychiatric disorders, and will lay the groundwork for new areas of research.

The question addressed in part by this paper are whether changes in decision-making behavior and associated brain functions are a result of pre-existing characteristics which may predispose individuals to use drugs or as a consequence of long-term use.

Decision-making dysfunctions and resultant altered neural processing could provide a biomarker to identify those at high-risk for addictive behaviors, said Paulus, who added that much additional research is needed before scientists could begin to use such an approach.

In an upcoming paper in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, Paulus cites the complex affective, cognitive and behavioral phenomena that come into play during decision-making. The interoceptive system is able to connect with various physiological systems in the brain to orchestrate a complex set of responses, he said, adding that craving and urges are among the most notable responses that play important functions in maintaining homeostasis. Insights into how pleasure and urge are integrated in the brain and how this process is modulated can play an important role in the understanding of and possible future treatment of drug addiction, according to Paulus.


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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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