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Addiction

 

Reward and punishment are keys to the behavioral reinforcement in affective disorders and addiction. Here, dopamine is associated with increased pleasure or desire and is increased during use of substances (e.g., cocaine, nicotine, or amphetamine), and activities of risk or thrill. Pathological gambling is a form of addiction that appears also to depend on augmented dopamine. We will test the dopaminergic reward system during reinforcement, reward, pleasure, or excitement. We will determine whether cognitive biases are associated with misperceptions of probability, risk taking, and continued gambling despite losses (chasing), and whether these patterns change in sufferers of Parkinson’s disease at risk for pathological gambling during treatment with dopaminergic agonists.


Dopamine elevation leads to psychosis when the increase exceeds a certain threshold. In schizophrenia, dopamine synthesis capacity, release, synaptic concentration, and density of receptors are all elevated (Gjedd 1995, Gjedde & Wong 2001, Reith 1994). Schizophrenia may be an extreme of the sensation-seeking personality, and it has become a model system for understanding the general role of dopamine in cognition (Dolan 1995, Pessiglione 2006).

 


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Revised 7-5-2012