Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Catherine L. Reed
© 2013 Alex R. Johnson
Drug addiction is a complex behavioral disorder that has been extensively studied in an attempt to uncover its underlying biological mechanisms. This paper contributes to the literature on addiction by demonstrating that addiction is a result of an improperly functioning decision making process. The areas of the brain that are most implicated in decision making demonstrate significant overlap with those areas most affected by addiction. Specifically, the limbic structures of the brain (amygdala, basal ganglia, and mesolimbic reward pathway) and the prefrontal cortices (orbitofrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex) are discussed in relation to their involvement in prominent theories of decision making such as Prospect Theory and the Somatic Marker Hypothesis. This paper will then use the above knowledge regarding the specific brain mechanisms that control decision making and apply it to neurobiological theories of addiction. The view that addiction is a behavioral disorder that results primarily from a degradation of the brain mechanisms involved in decision making processes is important to consider because it can help provide a concrete approach to developing more individualized and effective treatment programs in the future.
Johnson, Alex R., "The Relationship between Decision Making Deficits and Drug Addiction: A Neurobiological Approach" (2013). CMC Senior Theses. 615.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.