New Approaches to Addiction Treatment Based on Learning and Memory

  • Falk KieferEmail author
  • Christina Dinter
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 13)


Preclinical studies suggest that physiological learning processes are similar to changes observed in addicts at the molecular, neuronal, and structural levels. Based on the importance of classical and instrumental conditioning in the development and maintenance of addictive disorders, many have suggested cue-exposure-based extinction training of conditioned, drug-related responses as a potential new treatment of addiction. It may also be possible to facilitate this extinction training with pharmacological compounds that strengthen memory consolidation during cue exposure. Another potential therapeutic intervention would be based on the so-called reconsolidation theory. According to this hypothesis, already-consolidated memories return to a labile state when reactivated, allowing them to undergo another phase of consolidation–reconsolidation, which can be pharmacologically manipulated. These approaches suggest that the extinction of drug-related memories may represent a viable treatment strategy in the future treatment of addiction.


Addiction Dependence Reconsolidation LTP Reward Extinction Cue exposure 

List of Abbreviations


Basolateral amygdala




Long time depression


Long-term potentiation


Nucleus accumbens




Prefrontal cortex


Ventral tegmental area



This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) (grant SFB 636, D6), as well as the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (grant NGFN 01 GS08152, SP 13).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction MedicineCentral Institute of Mental Health, University of HeidelbergMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Department of Addiction MedicineCentral Institute for Mental HealthMannheimGermany

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