Brain Mechanisms of Change in Addiction Treatment: Models, Methods, and Emerging Findings
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Purpose of review
Increased understanding of “how” and “for whom” treatment works at the level of the brain has potential to transform addiction treatment through the development of innovative neuroscience-informed interventions. The 2015 Science of Change meeting bridged the fields of neuroscience and psychotherapy research to identify brain mechanisms of behavior change that are “common” across therapies and “specific” to distinct behavioral interventions.
Conceptual models of brain mechanisms underlying cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness interventions, and motivational interviewing differ in targeting brain circuits representing “top-down” cognitive control and “bottom-up” processing of reward. Methods for integrating neuroimaging into psychotherapy research can reveal recovery of brain functioning with sustained abstinence, which may be facilitated by psychotherapy and cognitive training.
Neuroimaging provides powerful tools for determining brain mechanisms underlying treatment effects, predicting and monitoring outcomes, developing novel neuroscience-informed interventions, and identifying for whom an intervention will be effective.
KeywordsNeuroimaging psychotherapy Addictive behaviors Translational Alcohol Substance use disorder
We thank Dr Bob Huebner for the inspiration for the meeting and for his enthusiastic support of this conference series. The 2015 Science of Change meeting, “Neuroimaging mechanisms of change in psychotherapy for addictive behaviors,” was held as a satellite to the Research Society on Alcoholism Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Tammy Chung reports grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism during the conduct of the study. Kathleen M. Carroll reports grants and other fees from CBT4CBT LLC outside of the submitted work. In addition, Dr. Carroll has a patent copyright issued. Sara Jo Nixon reports grants from NIAAA, during the conduct of the study. Bruce E. Wexler has patent functionalities of brain training programs pending. Judson Brewer reports grants from the National Institutes of Health during the conduct of the study and other fees from Claritas MindSciences outside the submitted work. Dr. Potenza reports other fees from Springer, Oxford Press, and American Psychiatric Press; fees from Opiant/Lakelight Therapeutics, RiverMend Health, INSYS, and Shire; grants from Pfizer; and fees from Gambling and legal entities, outside the submitted work.
Antonio Noronha, Kent Hutchison, Vince D. Calhoun, John D. E. Gabrieli, Jon Morgenstern, Lara Ray, Francesca Filbey, Timothy J. Strauman, Hedy Kober, and Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Support: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism R13 AA023455.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
Cited studies comply with research protections for human and animal subjects, as required by the specific journal in which the study was published.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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