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CMBN Colloquium Series: New Approaches to the Neuroscience of Human Drug Addiction: Drug Bias, Natural Language Processing and the Synchronized Brain
February 15 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm Free
Drug addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder characterized by excessive drug use despite catastrophic personal consequences (e.g., loss of family, job, health) and even when the substance is no longer perceived as pleasurable. In a theoretical model called iRISA (Impaired Response Inhibition and Salience Attribution) we postulated that core impairments in addiction are the disproportionate value/salience attributed to the drug and drug cues at the expense of other reinforcers, with a concomitant decrease in inhibitory control and self-regulation. This model assigns a primary role to the prefrontal cortex, part of the dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic circuit, in these higher-order executive deficits. In this talk, I will present results of human neuroimaging studies where we utilized a multimodal approach (neuropsychology, functional magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion weighted imaging, event-related potentials recordings) across drugs of abuse (cocaine, heroin) to explore the neurobiology underlying these core behavioral, cognitive, emotional and motivational impairments in drug addiction (encompassing drug cue reactivity, impulsivity) as associated with its clinical symptomatology (encompassing craving and drug seeking). Novel results shed light on brain recovery with abstinence and active treatment, inclusive of cognitive enhancement with pharmacological (methylphenidate) and behavioral (cognitive reappraisal) tools, as well as with mindfulness and direct brain stimulation (with transcranial devices). Natural language processing and naturalistic stimuli (i.e., movies: real-life, dynamic, complex and context-rich) are now also being explored in the lab for their use in unraveling ecologically valid brain-behavior biomarkers (and predictors) of both impairment and recovery in drug addiction. Together, this talk will exemplify the use of neuroimaging to better understand human drug addiction and for the development of empirically-based effective neurorehabilitation strategies in this devastating disorder.