Stimulate Change

To move from addiction to recovery requires change. We are exploring new scientific methods to stimulate meaningful change that can help ensure success in recovery – and to revolutionize the treatment of addiction.

Stimulant addicts often exhibit deficits in executive functioning. Executive functions include complex thought processes such as planning, working memory, and decision making. In this series of studies, we are examining whether training individual executive functions in stimulant addicts can improve that executive function, other executive functions, and/or clinically relevant behaviors related to stimulant addiction.

Executive function therapy for alcohol dependence

As with stimulant addicts, alcohol dependent individuals exhibit deficits in executive functioning. In this parallel study to the one above, we are examining whether executive function training can produce positive benefits among alcohol dependent individuals.

Effects of brain stimulation on cognitive performance

Areas in the prefrontal cortex of the brain are known to be active while people are using their working memory or while exhibiting self-control. In this study, we are examining whether non-invasively stimulating these areas of the brain with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) will alter working memory capacity or self-control. We are using functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) to measure any changes in brain activation produced by TMS.

The proposed project will provide new information about the repair of alcohol-dependent individuals’ self- control via working memory training and neurofeedback (real-time fMRI). By examining the brain regions that underlie impaired self-control before, during, and after intervention, we expect to provide novel insights into the neurobiology of self-control repair. We believe that a greater understanding of these neural mechanisms could lead to new and refined treatments for the pathologic decision-making seen in alcohol dependence.