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In addiction, meditation is helpful when coupled with drug and cognitive therapies
Date:12/19/2013

>"I am a theoretician, so I use other peoples' studies and try to see how they work together and how experiments fit in," Levy points out. "This work follows a knowledge repository (KR) model, where the knowledge comes from other peoples' theories and experiments. By consolidating them, we propose some hypotheses that we hope will subsequently be tested by experts in the field." The KR model used in his current work incorporates pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, neuropsychological, cognitive and behavioral components, the researcher notes.

The researchers explored the allostatic theory of addiction by combining two existing computational models, one pharmacological and the other a more behavioral-cognitive model. The allostatic theory describes changes in the brain's reward and anti-reward systems and reward set points as substance misuse progresses. "Neural adaptations arising from the reward system itself and from the anti-reward system provide the subject with functional stability, while affecting the person's mood. We propose a computational hypothesis describing how a virtual subject's drug consumption, cognitive substrate and mood interface with reward and anti-reward systems," they write.

Put more simply, the allostatic theory says that when someone takes a drug he or she stresses the reward system and it loses its homeostatic or equilibrium state. "We smoke one cigarette and go out, come back in again, and out with another cigarette, always trying to return to equilibrium," Levy says. "The reward system tries to change its structure with neural adaptations to get back to equilibrium. But if I continue to smoke, even with such adaptations, I can't make it back. Equilibrium is broken as long as I continue to smoke."

Here a second mechanism kicks in. "The reward system is so stressed, one can't come back to equilibrium," Levy explains. "So the anti-reward system says, 'I'll try to help.' The person or animal enters an allostatic stat
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Contact: Janet Lathrop
jlathrop@admin.umass.edu
413-545-0444
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Source:Eurekalert  

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