Center for Interdisziplinary Research

ZiF Workshop

Neuroplasticity in Addiction and Recovery: From Genes to Culture and Back Again

Date: 9 - 11 January 2014

Convenors: Jason Clark (Osnabrück, GER), Saskia Nagel (Osnabrück, GER)

In this conference, researchers from a wide variety of fields and perspectives addressed the role that neuroplasticity plays in substance addiction in the re-organization of the brain that accompanies the shift from substance use to addiction, as well as brain changes underlying recovery, and intersections between substance-induced neuroplasticity and neuroplasticity due to other variables, such as development. Nancy Campbell (Science, Technology and Society) discussed the concepts of 'neuroplasticity' and 'addiction' from a historical perspective, and how this history has influenced addicts' and society's conceptualizations of their ability to change. Jason Clark and Elisabeth Mühlfeld (Philosophy and Psychopharmacology) argued that the effectiveness of psychedelic drugs in treating addiction is due in significant part to the irreducible meaningfulness of those experiences. Jacques Dayan (Child Psychiatry) examined how the incomplete development of self-regulatory regions of the brain, together with the psychosocial environment of adolescents leaves adolescents especially vulnerable to developing addiction. Liana Fattore (Animal Research) emphasized different patterns of drug taking and effects in males and females, highlighting that the majority of research has almost exclusively focused on male drug taking. Craig Hanson (Philosophy) discussed models of addiction in behavioral economics, arguing that a multiple-selves view of the mind offers better insight into dynamic inconsistency in addicts' preferences. Andreas Heinz (Clinical Neuroscience) addressed the different contributions of opioid and dopamine systems in addiction, and how these can prevent the learning of non-drug alternative behaviors. Jens Kuhn (Clinical Neuroscience) discussed his highly promising research on the use of deep-brain stimulation to treat addiction, emphasizing the need for large-scale clinical trials. Daniel Lende (Neuroanthropology) discussed his fieldwork in Colombia, emphasizing how cultural differences and social opportunities can affect the recovery of and treatment of addicts. Neil Levy (Bioethics) argued that we can conceptualize the loss of control in addiction as oscillations between conflicting judgments and reasons, occurring as an attempt to resolve mismatches between top-down representations of the world and bottom-up drug craving. Marc Lewis (Developmental Neuroscience) examined the concepts of 'craving' and 'grasping' in Buddhist psychology, leveraging these into a critique of the disease concept of addiction. Christian Perring (Philosophy) argued that a full conceptualization of addiction must go beyond the brain-disease model, and include philosophical and psychological elements. Saskia Nagel and Jason Clark (Philosophy) argued that situating addiction within a social context requires situating core addictive changes within a broader neural perspective, including addiction's effects on regions of the brain mediating such social functions. Robert Malenka (Molecular Neuroscience) discussed how midbrain dopamine neurons are not homogeneous but differ in their molecular and response properties depending on the brain areas to which they project. Garret Stuber and Dennis Sparta (Molecular Neuroscience) discussed how optogenetics can provide a means of dissecting the cellular and neurochemical effects underlying addiction in unprecedentedly specific ways, and offering hope as a treatment technique in the long term. Reinout Wiers and Corinde Wiers (Clinical and Experimental Psychology) presented research concerning the use of Implicit Association Tasks to measure and retrain addicts' implicit attentional- and approach-biases towards addictive stimuli. Susanne Uusitalo (Philosophy) argued that conceptions of desire as compulsion and rational choice are conceptually compatible.


Nancy D. Campbell (Troy, USA), Jacques Dayan (Rennes, FRA), Liana Fattore (Monserrato, ITA), Craig Hanson (West Palm Beach, USA), Dirk Hanson (Ely, USA), Andreas Heinz (Berlin, GER), Ashima Keshava (Osnabrück, GER), Yulia Khayrutdinova (Osnabrück, GER), Joachim Koch (Bad Oeynhausen, GER), Jens Kuhn (Köln, GER), Daniel Lende (Tampa, USA), Neil Levy (Melbourne, AUS), Marc Lewis (Nimwegen, NED), Aleksey Lytochkin (Osnabrück, GER), Robert Malenka (Stanford, USA), Elisabeth Mühlfeld (Amsterdam, NED), Jose Ossandon (Osnabrück, GER), Christian Perring (Oakdale, USA), Dennis R. Sparta (Chapel Hill, USA), Heino Stöver (Frankfurt am Main, GER), Garret Stuber (Chapel Hill, USA), Maia Szalavitz (New York, USA), Susanne Uusitalo (Turku, FIN), Corinde Wiers (Berlin, GER), Reinout W.H.J. Wiers (Amsterdam, NED)

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