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Cocaine Addiction as a Homeostatic Reinforcement Learning Disorder

Keramati, M., Durand, A., Girardeau, P. , Gutkin, B. & Serge, A. (2017). Cocaine Addiction as a Homeostatic Reinforcement Learning Disorder. Psychological Review, 124(2), pp. 130-153. doi: 10.1037/rev0000046


Drug addiction implicates both reward learning and homeostatic regulation mechanisms of the brain. This has stimulated 2 partially successful theoretical perspectives on addiction. Many important aspects of addiction, however, remain to be explained within a single, unified framework that integrates the 2 mechanisms. Building upon a recently developed homeostatic reinforcement learning theory, the authors focus on a key transition stage of addiction that is well modeled in animals, escalation of drug use, and propose a computational theory of cocaine addiction where cocaine reinforces behavior due to its rapid homeostatic corrective effect, whereas its chronic use induces slow and long-lasting changes in homeostatic setpoint. Simulations show that our new theory accounts for key behavioral and neurobiological features of addiction, most notably, escalation of cocaine use, drug-primed craving and relapse, individual differences underlying dose-response curves, and dopamine D2-receptor downregulation in addicts. The theory also generates unique predictions about cocaine self-administration behavior in rats that are confirmed by new experimental results. Viewing addiction as a homeostatic reinforcement learning disorder coherently explains many behavioral and neurobiological aspects of the transition to cocaine addiction, and suggests a new perspective toward understanding addiction.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: "©American Psychological Association, 2018. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/rev0000046.
Publisher Keywords: drug addiction, homeostatic regulation, reinforcement learning, goal-directed planning, escalation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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