A twist on Pavlov’s
point the way to new
treatments for drug
addiction and overeating.
BY KIRSTEN WEIR
Alcoholism, drug abuse, overeating: Psychologists have long sought to understand why we succumb to ur temptations, and for good reason. Even those of
us who don’t have hard-core addictions have trouble curbing
our cravings from time to time, whether temptation comes in
the form of a cigarette or an ice-cream sundae.
Recently, scientists have inched closer to understanding
temptation with the discovery that two distinct motivational
behaviors exist in rats — and perhaps in people. Among the
rodents, at least, some animals become powerfully attracted
to cues that signal an imminent reward, while for others, the
cue itself holds no special influence.
Researchers are only just beginning to translate the
findings to humans. But if their hunch is correct, the research
could open up new avenues for preventing and treating
“This research highlights the motivational power
of cues associated with rewards, such as food or drugs,
to instigate maladaptive behavior even in the face of a
conscious desire to resist temptation,” says Terry Robinson,