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Romantic Love vs. Drug Addiction May Inspire a New Treatment for Addiction

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      Abstract

      Drug addiction is a complex neurological dysfunction induced by recurring drug intoxication. Strategies to prevent and treat drug addiction constitute a topic of research interest. Early-stage romantic love is characterized by some characteristics of addiction, which gradually disappear as the love relationship progresses. Therefore, comparison of the concordance and discordance between romantic love and drug addiction may elucidate potential treatments for addiction. This focused review uses the evidences from our recent studies to compare the neural alterations between romantic love and drug addiction, moreover we also compare the behavioral and neurochemical alterations between romantic love and drug addiction. From the behavioral comparisons we find that there are many similarities between the early stage of romantic love and drug addiction, and this stage romantic love is considered as a behavioral addiction, while significant differences exist between the later stage of romantic love and drug addiction, and this stage of romantic love eventually developed into a prosocial behavior. The neuroimaging comparisons suggest that romantic love and drug addiction both display the functional enhancement in reward and emotion regulation network. Except the similar neural changes, romantic love display special function enhancement in social cognition network, while drug addiction display special dysfunction in cognitive control network. The neurochemical comparisons show that there are many similarities in the dopamine (DA) system, while significant differences in oxytocin (OT) system for romantic love and drug addiction. These findings indicate that the functional alterations in reward and emotion regulation network and the DA system may be the neurophysiological basis of romantic love as a behavioral addiction, and the functional alterations in social cognition network and the OT system may be the neurophysiological basis of romantic love as a prosocial behavior. It seems that the OT system is a critical factor for the development of addiction. So we then discuss strategies to treat drug addiction with OT, and suggest that future research should further investigate OT system interventions aiming to improve cognitive control and/or social cognition functions, in order to develop strategies designed to more effectively treat drug addiction.

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      The majority of functional neuroscience studies have focused on the brain's response to a task or stimulus. However, the brain is very active even in the absence of explicit input or output. In this Article we review recent studies examining spontaneous fluctuations in the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal of functional magnetic resonance imaging as a potentially important and revealing manifestation of spontaneous neuronal activity. Although several challenges remain, these studies have provided insight into the intrinsic functional architecture of the brain, variability in behaviour and potential physiological correlates of neurological and psychiatric disease.
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        The anterior insular cortex (AIC) is implicated in a wide range of conditions and behaviours, from bowel distension and orgasm, to cigarette craving and maternal love, to decision making and sudden insight. Its function in the re-representation of interoception offers one possible basis for its involvement in all subjective feelings. New findings suggest a fundamental role for the AIC (and the von Economo neurons it contains) in awareness, and thus it needs to be considered as a potential neural correlate of consciousness.
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          Conflict monitoring and anterior cingulate cortex: an update.

          One hypothesis concerning the human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is that it functions, in part, to signal the occurrence of conflicts in information processing, thereby triggering compensatory adjustments in cognitive control. Since this idea was first proposed, a great deal of relevant empirical evidence has accrued. This evidence has largely corroborated the conflict-monitoring hypothesis, and some very recent work has provided striking new support for the theory. At the same time, other findings have posed specific challenges, especially concerning the way the theory addresses the processing of errors. Recent research has also begun to shed light on the larger function of the ACC, suggesting some new possibilities concerning how conflict monitoring might fit into the cingulate's overall role in cognition and action.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            1Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University Chongqing, China
            2Center of Medical Physics and Technology, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, CAS Hefei, China
            3Chinese Academy of Sciences Key Laboratory of Brain Function and Disease, School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China Hefei, China
            4School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Science and Technology of China Hefei, China
            5Centers for Biomedical Engineering, University of Science and Technology of China Hefei, China
            Author notes

            Edited by: Charlotte A. Boettiger, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

            Reviewed by: Kai Yuan, Xidian University, China; Erin Burdwood, University of Delaware, USA

            †These authors have contributed equally to this work and shared first authorship.

            Contributors
            Journal
            Front Psychol
            Front Psychol
            Front. Psychol.
            Frontiers in Psychology
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            1664-1078
            22 September 2016
            2016
            : 7
            5031705 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01436
            Copyright © 2016 Zou, Song, Zhang and Zhang.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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            Figures: 2, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 99, Pages: 12, Words: 9993
            Categories
            Psychology
            Focused Review

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