Reward comparison: the Achilles' heel and hope for addiction

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In the words of the late Charles Flaherty, reward comparison is commonplace. Rats and humans, it appears, compare all rewards and this capacity probably contributes to our ability to select the most appropriate reward/behavior (food, water, salt and sex), at the most ideal level (e.g. a certain sweetness), at any given time. A second advantage of our predisposition for reward comparison is that the availability of rich alternative rewards can protect against our becoming addicted to any single reward/behavior. Thus, the potential protective effects of natural rewards/enrichment are addressed. Despite this, behavior can become inflexible when, through the development of addiction, stress, drug or cues elicit craving, withdrawal, and ultimately, drug-seeking. Drug-seeking corresponds with a 'window of inopportunity', when even potent natural rewards have little or no impact on behavior. During this time, there is a unitary solution to the need state, and that solution is drug. The present animal model explores this 'window of inopportunity' when natural rewards are devalued and drug-seeking is engaged and considers a mode of possible intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalDrug Discovery Today: Disease Models
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


Dive into the research topics of 'Reward comparison: the Achilles' heel and hope for addiction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this