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NIDA

The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction

3: The reward pathway

The reward pathway

Tell your audience that this is a view of the brain cut down the middle. An important part of the reward pathway is shown and the major structures are highlighted: the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens, and the prefrontal cortex. The VTA is connected to both the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex via this pathway and it sends information to these structures via its neurons. The neurons of the VTA contain the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is released in the nucleus accumbens and in the prefrontal cortex (point to each of these structures). Reiterate that this pathway is activated by a rewarding stimulus. [Note: the pathway shown here is not the only pathway activated by rewards, other structures are involved too, but only this part of the pathway is shown for simplicity.]

This page was last updated January 2007

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NIDA Notes: The Latest in Drug Abuse Research

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