The Neurobiology of Addiction: Implications for Voluntary Control of Behavior

Steven E. Hyman

in Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199570706
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The Neurobiology of Addiction: Implications for Voluntary Control of Behavior

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology


Show Summary Details


This article focuses on addiction to examine the issues of decision-making and behavioral control and their ethical implications. Addicted people habitually engage in apparently voluntary behaviors, such as drug seeking and drug use, that are by standard definitions of addiction, compulsive or beyond the person's control. Addiction also provides a useful window because there has been made substantial progress toward understanding its neural mechanisms, even if somewhat divergent perspectives remain. For both ethical and technological reasons, most current experiments in human neurobiology, including many based on functional magnetic resonance imaging; yield correlative information rather than direct tests of causal mechanisms. The focus on compulsive drug use as the cardinal feature of addiction improves upon older views that had focused on dependence and withdrawal. The shaping of behavior to maximize future reward is dependent on the precise pattern of dopamine release. One of the most significant features of drug addiction discussed is its persistence.

Keywords: addiction; behavioral control; ethical implications; dopamine; neural mechanisms

Article.  7326 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Clinical Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.