Addictive behaviour in experimental animals: prospects for translation

30 Oct 2017

Since the introduction of intravenous drug self-administration methodology over 50 years ago, experimental investigation of addictive behaviour has delivered an enormous body of data on the neural, psychological and molecular mechanisms of drug reward and reinforcement and the neuroadaptations to chronic use. Whether or not these behavioural and molecular studies are viewed as modelling the underpinnings of addiction in humans, the discussion presented here highlights two areas—the impact of drug-associated conditioned stimuli—or drug cues—on drug seeking and relapse, and compulsive cocaine seeking. The degree to which these findings translate to the clinical state of addiction is considered in terms of the underlying neural circuitry and also the ways in which this understanding has helped develop new treatments for addiction. The psychological and neural mechanisms underlying drug memory reconsolidation and extinction established in animal experiments show particular promise in delivering new treatments for relapse prevention to the clinic.