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Drug- and reward-induced hedonic processing in humans (completed)

Benzodiazepines and minor opiates are two of the most frequently prescribed addictive drugs, and abuse of these substances is associated with a range of adverse consequences, including anhedonia, or the loss of ability to experience pleasure, as well as psychosocial problems

About the Project

The understanding of the underlying neurobiological processes has made great progress in the past 30 years and several influential theories of addiction have been proposed, but these still rely heavily on findings from research on rodents which have not been examined in humans, let alone in clinical populations. Thus, the primary objective of this project is to close this knowledge gap about drug- and reward-induced hedonic processes in humans. To this end, healthy human volunteers will be tested on a battery of reward tasks, involving both consummatory (taste, touch, money, relief) and conditioned stimuli to assess each individual's state and "hedonic capacity profile".

Outcome measures are subjective ratings of hedonic experience, in combination with objective physiological measures of autonomic arousal, subconscious affective reactions, and brain activation assessed with functional MRI. Furthermore, pharmacological interventions will clarify the role of addictive drugs and endogenous opioid and oxytonergic neurotransmitter signalling for the various reward processes. Understanding whether the role of these systems in human reward processing is homologous to that observed in rodent studies is essential for assessing current theories of addiction.

A special focus is placed on the role of social functioning and social rewards with relevance to addiction, through the use of interpersonal touch paradigms as well as intranasal oxytocin administration. This project in healthy volunteers will form the basis for further research investigating these processes in human addiction.


The Research Council of Norway (RUSMIDDEL - Researcher project) 2010 - 2017.

Published Oct. 24, 2016 2:47 PM - Last modified Oct. 16, 2017 7:44 PM