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Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says

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 February 2016

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NIDA (2016). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says. Retrieved , from https://www.drugabuse.gov/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction-what-science-says

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NIDA Notes: The Latest in Drug Abuse Research

Teaching Packets

Explores the consequences of drug abuse on the brain and body and introduces the topics of prevention, and treatment.