The construct of craving has been central to addiction research for more than 50 years. Only recently have investigators begun to apply functional neuroimaging techniques to the study of drug cue reactivity, and a small but growing number of studies implicate a distributed system of brain regions in the pathogenesis of craving. The internal consistency of this burgeoning literature has thus far been disappointing, however, leaving open the question of which brain regions contribute to craving. Here we review neuroimaging studies of cue-elicited craving in the context of a framework drawn from behavioral research indicating that perceived drug use opportunity significantly affects responses to the presentation of drug cues. Using this framework provides a way to reconcile discrepant findings among brain-imaging studies of cue-elicited craving.
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