Behavioral Neuroscience of Drug Addiction

Volume 3 of the series Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences pp 301-318


The Role of Executive Control in Human Drug Addiction

  • Robert HesterAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Melbourne Email author 
  • , Dan I. LubmanAffiliated withOrygen Youth Health Research Centre, Faculty of Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne
  • , Murat YücelAffiliated withMelbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne

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Recent neurobiological models propose that executive control deficits play a critical role in the development and maintenance of drug addiction. In this review, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of executive control processes and their constituent neural network, and examine neuropsychological and neuroimaging evidence of executive control dysfunction in addicted drug users. We explore the link between attentional biases to drug-related stimuli and treatment outcome, and discuss recent work demonstrating that the hedonic balance between drug cues and natural reinforcers is abnormal in addiction. Finally, we consider the potential impact of early drug use on the developing adolescent brain, and discuss research examining premorbid executive control impairments in drug-naïve “at-risk” populations.


Addiction Drug dependence Cognition Executive function Cognitive control Cognitive neuroscience