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Memory training explored as strategy for addiction treatment
Date:1/27/2011

People with addictions to stimulants tend to choose instant gratification or a smaller but sooner reward over a future benefit, even if the future reward is greater. Reduced value of a future reward, called "delay discounting" by neuroscientists, is the major challenge for treatment of addiction. A new study in the February 2011 (Vol. 69, Issue 3) Biological Psychiatry appears to present a strategy for increasing the value of future rewards in the minds of addicts.

"The hope is for a new intervention to help addicts," said Warren K. Bickel, professor and director of the Center for Substance Abuse at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute effective Feb 1. 2011. Bickel will also be a professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech.

Bickel did the research when he was the Wilbur D. Mills Chair of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Prevention and director of the Center for Addiction Research and the Center for the Study of Tobacco Addiction at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

"It is a major coup for us to be able to attract Dr. Bickel to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Roanoke. He is a renowned research leader in understanding the strategies used by the human brain during addiction and his latest work is providing valuable new insights into potential therapeutic strategies for rehabilitating the addicted human brain," said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the research institute.

According to studies by Bickel and colleagues at the at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, consideration and value of the future overlap mental processes and brain regions associated with memory. The research team decided to test the possibility that increasing an individual's ability to remember would decrease the discounting of future events.

"In other words, we asked whether improved memory could result in a greater appreciation of a future reward," said Bickel
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Contact: Susan Trulove
strulove@vt.edu
540-231-5646
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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