Neurological Assessment Benefits Addiction Disorder Treatment

Specific brain neurons responsible for nicotine addiction
Specific brain neurons responsible for nicotine addiction
Use of the Addictions Neuroclinical Assessment in a clinical setting can allow clinicians to tailor addiction treatment.

By facilitating an understanding of addiction at the biological level, researchers can develop more effective, individualized treatments for patients with addictive disorders, according to research published in Biological Psychology.

George F. Koob, PhD, director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and colleagues, noted that use of the Addictions Neuroclinical Assessment (ANA) includes behavioral assessment of the 3 processes considered most relevant to addiction: incentive salience, negative emotionality, and executive functioning.

“The assessment framework that we describe recognizes the great advances that continue to be made in our understanding of the neuroscience of addiction,” said Dr Koob in a press release. “These advances underscore how much we know about the core neurobiological manifestations of addiction in people.”

In a National Institutes of Health (NIH) press release, Dr Koob and colleagues compared the ANA tool to clinicians’ use of cellular, genetic, molecular, and imaging information with patients’ clinical history to make a cancer diagnosis — thus allowing clinicians to tailor cancer treatment to each patient individually.

Dr Koob added, “Although addiction treatment options exist, and indeed continue to expand, they are limited by significant winthin-diagnosis heterogeneity and by a failure, thus far, to define addictive disorders by their neurobiological substrates.”

Dr Koob and colleagues hope that the comprehensive measures presented by the ANA will allow for future understanding of addiction origins at a biological level.


  1. Scientists propose neuroscience framework for diagnosing addiction [news release]. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health. Published October 27, 2016. Accessed October 28, 2016.
  2. Kwako LE, Momenan R, Litten RZ, Koob GF, Goldman D. Addictions neuroclinical assessment: a neuroscience based framework for addictive disorders. Biol Psychiat. 2016;80(3):179-189. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.10.024

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