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NIDA

Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says

4: The reward pathway

Reward Pathway

One pathway important to understanding the effects of drugs on the brain is called the reward pathway. The reward pathway involves several parts of the brain, some of which are highlighted in this image: the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens, and the prefrontal cortex. When activated by a rewarding stimulus (e.g., food, water, sex), information travels from the VTA to the nucleus accumbens and then up to the prefrontal cortex.

This page was last updated January 2007

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