Thursday, May 2, 2013
4:00 pm
Beckman Behavioral Biology 24

Behavioral Social Neuroscience Seminar

Self-Control Failure and Its Repair in Addiction
Warren Bickel, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute

Drug Dependence is a major source of mortality and morbidity in the U.S. A key component of this disorder is the failure of self-control – the automatic impulse to consume substances prevails over the future pro-social goals associated with abstinence.  Discounting of delayed rewards, a measure of self-control, results from the interaction of two valuation systems -- impulsive and executive decision systems. My research team has demonstrated that addicts grossly undervalue future rewards relative to immediate rewards because of executive dysfunction. Moreover, this excessive discounting (poor self-control) is correlated with poor working memory (WM) skills, treatment outcome and relapse. Importantly, we have shown that training WM skills repairs excessive discounting of delayed rewards. In this report, I review the current status of self-control failure and its repair.

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