Neuromechanisms of Addictive Substances, Reward System

Authors: P. E. Váchová;  S. Racková;  L. Janů
Authors‘ workplace: Psychiatrická klinika LF UK a FN, Plzeň přednosta doc. MUDr. J. Beran, CSc.
Published in: Čes. a slov. Psychiat., 105, 2009, No. 6-8, pp. 263-268.
Category: Comprehensive Reports


Addiction on psychoactive substances is a complex, multifactorial illness, which evolves from the interaction of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Several models describe the creation and evolution of addiction. One of the most important ones is the reward system, which is created on the basis of dopamine hypothesis. Basic interaction takes place between the ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex. Psychoactive substances (pathological sources of rewards) cause many sorts of biochemical changes in the brain, which have a similar reactive mechanism as physiological sources (sex, food). However, their reaction time and ease of achieving the feeling of pleasure differ significantly. There are no physiological mechanisms which would ensure the preference of natural rewards.

Key words:
dopamine hypothesis, nucleus accumbens, reward, prefrontal cortex, reward system, ventral tegmental area.


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Addictology Paediatric psychiatry Psychiatry
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