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NIDA

The Brain & the Actions of Cocaine, Opiates, and Marijuana

2: The reward pathway

The reward pathway

Tell students that this is a view of the brain cut down the middle. An important part of the reward system is shown and the major structures are highlighted: the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens (nuc. acc.) and the prefrontal cortex. Also, the pathway connecting these structures is highlighted. The information travels from the VTA to the nucleus accumbens and then up to the prefrontal cortex. Reiterate that this pathway is activated by a rewarding stimulus. [Note to scientists - this is not the only pathway activated by reward, other structures are involved too, but only this part of the pathway is shown for simplicity.]

This page was last updated January 2007