The hallmark of addiction, which is craving or compulsive drug seeking, can be explained by changes in the frontal cortex. PET scanning and MRI have been used to measure drug abusers’ brain activity during episodes of craving, and it was found that activity in the decision making and motivation centers in the brains frontal cortex had heightened activity. These findings were reproducible in other labs, and they suggested that this impairment resulted in the inability of addicts to look beyond the immediate gratification that drugs afforded or the long term negative impact of drug use. (Carpenter) The biological explanation involves dopamine (plays a role in reward centre) and serotonin pathways in the brain and depletion of other neurotransmitters such as tryptophan and phenyalanine.
Another aspect of cognition, which also plays a part in memory, is attention. It is the process of focusing and concentrating on one source. It can be classified into five different types, and this classification has been valuable in evaluating attention in people with different brain pathologies. The types include focused, sustained, selective, alternating and divided attention. The ‘executive function’ of the brain, which has been mentioned, previously, determines which pieces of incoming information should be given attention to, depending on what the goals of the person are. This theory emerges from the positive incentive model of addiction.This bears great importance for people with addictions as their goals, specially during craving are impaired.
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