From actions to habits
Recent work on the role of overlapping cerebral networks in action selection and habit formation has important implications for alcohol addiction research. As reviewed below, (1) these networks, which all involve a group of deep-brain structures called the basal ganglia, are associated with distinct behavioral control processes, such as reward-guided Pavlovian conditional responses, goal-directed instrumental actions, and stimulus-driven habits; (2) different stages of action learning are associated with different networks, which have the ability to change (i.e., plasticity); and (3) exposure to alcohol and other addictive drugs can have profound effects on these networks by influencing the mechanisms underlying neural plasticity.
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