The lateral habenula (LHb) regulates reward learning and controls the updating of reward-related information. Drugs of abuse have the capacity to hijack the cellular and neurocircuit mechanisms mediating reward learning, forming non-adaptable, compulsive behaviors geared toward obtaining illicit substances. Here, we discuss current findings demonstrating how drugs of abuse alter intrinsic and synaptic LHb neuronal function. Additionally, we discuss evidence for how drug-induced LHb alterations may affect the ability to predict reward, potentially facilitating an addiction-like state. Altogether, we combine ex vivo and in vivo results for an overview of how drugs of abuse alter LHb function and how these functional alterations affect the ability to learn and update behavioral responses to hedonic external stimuli.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology