21st century neurobehavioral theories of decision making in addiction: Review and evaluation

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Abstract

This review critically examines neurobehavioral theoretical developments in decision making in addiction in the 21st century. We specifically compare each theory reviewed to seven benchmarks of theoretical robustness, based on their ability to address: why some commodities are addictive; developmental trends in addiction; addiction-related anhedonia; self-defeating patterns of behavior in addiction; why addiction co-occurs with other unhealthy behaviors; and, finally, means for the repair of addiction. We have included only self-contained theories or hypotheses which have been developed or extended in the 21st century to address decision making in addiction. We thus review seven distinct theories of decision making in addiction: learning theories, incentive-sensitization theory, dopamine imbalance and systems models, opponent process theory, strength models of self-control failure, the competing neurobehavioral decision systems theory, and the triadic systems theory of addiction. Finally, we have directly compared the performance of each of these theories based on the aforementioned benchmarks, and highlighted key points at which several theories have coalesced.

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