Sensory and motor aspects of addiction

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Abstract

Research on the psychological and neuronal underpinnings of addiction has concentrated mostly on affective, motivational, learning, and executive processes and the brain regions subserving these functions. In contrast, sensory and motor aspects of addiction have largely been neglected even though they may be highly relevant for the development and preservation of addiction. The aim of the present review is to emphasize the significance of sensory and motor processes for the better understanding and treatment of addiction. We focus on research investigating substance-related addictions and on brain imaging studies in humans that have assessed the contribution of cortical and cerebellar systems to sensory and motor mechanisms of addiction. Activations of sensory and motor brain regions in response to drug-associated cues can predict relapse and correlate with craving, severity of dependence and automatized behavioral reactions towards drug-related stimuli. We propose a model of how sensory and motor processes might be involved in the different stages of addiction.

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