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The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction

3: Brain regions and neuronal pathways

Brain regions and neuronal pathways

Certain parts of the brain govern specific functions. Point to areas such as the sensory (orange), motor (blue) and visual cortex (yellow) to highlight their specific functions. Point to the cerebellum (pink) for coordination and to the hippocampus (green) for memory. Indicate that nerve cells or neurons connect one area to another via pathways to send and integrate information. The distances that neurons extend can be short or long. For example, point to the reward pathway (orange). Explain that this pathway is activated when a person receives positive reinforcement for certain behaviors ("reward"). Indicate that you will explain how this happens when a person takes an addictive drug. As another example, point to the thalamus (magenta). This structure receives information about pain coming from the body (magenta line within the spinal cord), and passes the information up to the cortex. Tell the audience that you can look at this in more detail.

This page was last updated January 2007

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