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Seminar – David Belin

9 December 2022 / 11:30

Venue: Centre Broca

David Belin, PhD.
Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience

Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute – University of Cambridge, UK

Invited by Laurent Juvin

David Belin defended his thesis in Bordeaux 2005, under the supervision of Véronique Deroche.


The Psychological and Neural basis of incentive habits: relevance for our understanding of compulsive disorders.


There is increasing evidence that Substance Use Disorders stem from loss of control over maladaptive drug seeking habits. The psychological and neural basis of the maladaptive nature of these drug seeking habits remains unknown.

The incentive habit hypothesis of addiction suggests that incentive habits, which are instrumental habits that develop under the motivational influence of the conditioned reinforcing properties of drug-paired cues, contribute to the persistence of drug seeking in the face of negative consequences and the high tendency to relapse that jointly characterise Substance Use Disorders.

In longitudinal studies in rats we used a combination of refined self-administration procedures, causal manipulations of the corticostriatal circuits, such as functional disconnections or pathway specific manipulations of the brain in rats seeking drugs, in vivo extracellular electrophysiological recordings and molecular biology to identify the neural and psychological basis of these incentive habits.

We further demonstrated that incentive habits result in the aberrant engagement of excessive drug seeking behaviour despite past or future negative consequences, or following abstinence.

During this talk I will present this novel psychobiological model of addiction and discuss its neural and cellular substrates.

I will particularly focus on the notion that once incentive habits have developed, as a result of prolonged exposure to drug seeking under conditioned reinforcement, there is a shift in the goal of this persistent drug seeking from the drug to the response itself.

Key publications

Dampuré J, Agudelo-Orjuela P, Van Der Meij M, Belin D* & Barber H* (2022), Electrophysiological signature of the interplay between habits and inhibition in response to smoking-related cues in individuals with a smoking habit: an ERP study. BiorXiv. 2022.07.28.501841; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.07.28.501841 *: co-last authors.

Giuliano C, Marti-Prats L, Domi A, Puaud M, Pena-Oliver Y, McKenzie C, Everitt BJ, Belin D (2022) The development of compulsive coping behaviors depends on the engagement of dorsolateral striatum dopamine-dependent mechanisms. BiorXiv2022.09.27.509680; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.09.27.509680

Jones JA, Belin-Rauscent A, Jupp B, Fouyssac M, Sawiak SJ, Zhukovsky P, Hebdon L, Velazquez Sanchez C, Robbins TW, Everitt BJ, Belin D*, Dalley JW* (2022), Neurobehavioral precursors of compulsive cocaine-seeking in dual fronto-striatal circuits. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.11.09.515779 *: co-last authors

Fouyssac M, Pena-Oliver Y, Puaud M, Lim N, Giuliano C, Everitt BJ & Belin D (2022) Negative urgency exacerbates relapse to cocaine seeking following abstinence, Biological Psychiatry 91(12) 1051-1060, doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.10.009. PMID: 34922736,

Giuliano C, Puaud M, Cardinal R.N, Belin D*, Everitt BJ* (2021) Individual differences in the engagement of habitual control over alcohol seeking predicts the development of compulsive alcohol seeking and drinkingAddiction Biology, e13041. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/adb.13041. PMID: 33955649 *: co-last authors.

Fouyssac M, Puaud M, Ducret E, Marti-Prats L, Vanhille N, Ansquer S, Zhang X, Belin-Rauscent A, Giuliano C, Houeto JL, Everitt BJ, Belin D (2020) Environment-dependent behavioral traits and experiential factors shape addiction vulnerability. European Journal of Neuroscience, 53(6) 1794-1808, doi: 10.1111/ejn.15087. PMID: 33332672, RCR = 1.51 Altmetric score: 20

Puaud M, Higuera-Matas A, Brunault P, Everitt BJ, Belin D (2020) The Basolateral amygdala–> Nucleus Accumbens core circuit mediates the conditioned reinforcing effects of cocaine-paired cues on cocaine seeking, Biological Psychiatry, 89 (4) 356-365. PMID: 33040986

Giuliano C, Belin D*, Everitt BJE* (2019) Compulsive alcohol seeking results from a failure to disengage dorsolateral striatal control over behavior. Journal of Neuroscience 39 (9), 1744-1754, doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2615-18.2018. PMID: 30617206. *: co-last authors

Hodebourg R, Murray J, Fouyssac M, Puaud M, Everitt BJ & Belin D (2018) Heroin seeking becomes dependent on dorsal striatal dopaminergic mechanisms and can be decreased by N-acetylcysteine, European Journal of Neuroscience 50(3) 2036-2044, doi: 10.1111/ejn.13894, PMID: 29514413. 13

Everitt BJ, Giuliano C & Belin D (2018) Addictive behaviour in experimental animals: prospects for translation, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B19(373) 1742, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017-0027, PMID:29352026. 3

Giuliano C, Peña-Oliver Y, Goodlett CR, Cardinal RN, Robbins TW, Bullmore ET, Belin D* & Everitt BJ* (2017) Evidence for a long-lasting compulsive alcohol seeking phenotype in rats. Neuropsychopharmacology 43(4) 728-738, doi: 10.1038/npp.2017, PMID: 28553834. *: co-last authors.

Murray JE, Belin-Rauscent A, Simon M, Giuliano C, Benoît-Marand M, Everitt BJ & Belin D (2015) Basolateral and central amygdala differentially recruit and maintain dorsolateral striatum-dependent cocaine-seeking habits. Nature Communications (6) 1-9, doi:10.1038/ncomms10088, PMID: 26657320. 

Belin-Rauscent A, Fouyssac M, Bonci A & Belin D (2015) How have preclinical models evolved to resemble addiction as defined in the DSM-5. Biological Psychiatry 79(1) 39-46. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.01.004, PMID: 25747744.

Murray J, Dilleen R, Pelloux Y, Economidou D, Jordan ER, Dalley JW, Belin D* & Everitt BJ* (2014) Increased impulsivity retards the transition to dorsolateral striatal dopamine control of cocaine seeking. Biological Psychiatry 76(1):15–22. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.09.011, *: co-last authors.

Belin D, Belin-Rauscent A, Murray JE, Everitt BJ (2013) Drug addiction: a failure in regulation maladaptive incentive habits. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 23 (4), 564-572; doi:10.1016/j.conb.2013.01.025, PMID: 23452942.

Belin-Rauscent A, Everitt J, Belin D (2012) Intrastriatal shifts mediate the development of drug seeking habits. Biological Psychiatry 72 (5), 343-345, DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.07.001, PMID: 22872011.

Murray J, Belin D., Everitt BJ. (2012) Double dissociation of the dorsomedial and dorsolateral striatum control over the acquisition and performance of cocaine seeking. Neuropsychopharmacology 37 (11), 2456-2466, DOI: 10.1038/npp.2012.104, PMID: 22739470.

Belin D, Jonkman S, Dickinson A, Robbins TW and Everitt BJ (2009) Parallel and integrative processes within the striatum: relevance for the neurobiology of addiction. Behavioural Brain Research 199(1): 89-102, DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.09.027, PMID: 18950658.

Belin D and Everitt BJ (2008) Cocaine-Seeking Habits Depend upon Dopamine-Dependent Serial Connectivity Linking the Ventral with the Dorsal Striatum. Neuron 57:432-441, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.12.019, PMID: 18255035.

Everitt BJ, Belin D, Economidou D, Pelloux Y, Dalley, JW and Robbins TW (2008) Neural mechanisms underlying the vulnerability to develop compulsive drug seeking habits and addiction. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B Oct 12;363(1507):3125-35, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0089, PMID: 18640910. RCR = 18.15, Altmetric score: 15


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9 December 2022
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