Habit, choice and addiction

Y. Vandaele, S. H. Ahmed
Neuropsychopharmacol.. 2020-11-09; :
DOI: 10.1038/s41386-020-00899-y

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Vandaele Y(1), Ahmed SH(2)(3).

Author information:
(1)Department of Psychiatry, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland. .
(2)Institut des Maladies Neurodégénératives, Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France.
(3)Institut des Maladies Neurodégénératives, CNRS, Bordeaux, France.

Addiction was suggested to emerge from the progressive dominance of habits over
goal-directed behaviors. However, it is generally assumed that habits do not
persist in choice settings. Therefore, it is unclear how drug habits may persist
in real-world scenarios where this factor predominates. Here, we discuss the poor
translational validity of the habit construct, which impedes our ability to
determine its role in addiction. New evidence of habitual behavior in a drug
choice setting are then described and discussed. Interestingly, habitual
preference did not promote drug choice but instead favored abstinence. Here, we
propose several clues to reconcile these unexpected results with the habit theory
of addiction, and we highlight the need in experimental research to face the
complexity of drug addicts’ decision-making environments by investigating drug
habits in the context of choice and in the presence of cues. On a theoretical
level, we need to consider more complex frameworks, taking into account
continuous interactions between goal-directed and habitual systems, and
alternative decision-making models more representative of real-world conditions.


Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus