How Addiction Lights Up Our Brains: Reviewing how the Neurotransmitters Dopamine and Glutamate affect Addiction By Gary Lange Ph.D., MFT, NCGC

April 3rd, 2011

When we eat great lasagna, get a warm hug or compliment, use a drug or addictive behavior, or even anticipate one of these: our brain lights up! What happens in the brain when we experience pleasure—including the pleasure induced by addictive behavior? Briefly, three core areas of the brain and two neurotransmitters play a role in eliciting the pleasure or the “high”. Addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling and problematic behaviors, interrupt the normal balance of the brain and neurotransmitters. They can have lasting negative effects on the addicted person, but with recovery and abstinence the brain can re-set itself so that they can again find joy and fulfillment in things other than the addictive behaviors. Each day we are learning more and more about how the neurotransmitters in our brain affect our behavior. The way it “lights up our brain” can be quite complex, but for simplicity sake, this article will look at just two neurotransmitters and three parts of the brain. Three areas of the brain affected by addiction are the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA), the prefrontal cortex, and the Nucleus Accumbens (NA).

Full story »

Why Psychology still has a Problem with Consciousness by Stuart Hameroff M.D.

September 29th, 2008

William James, the father of American psychology, wrote gloriously about consciousness a hundred years ago. But following James, his field became dominated by behaviorism which focused exclusively on experimental methods with measurable data. Because conscious awareness can neither be observed nor measured, the very concept became marginalized, and consciousness became quite literally a ‘dirty word’ in academic psychology for most of the 20th century. Beginning in the late 1980s, consciousness re-emerged as an important scientific topic, but has remained largely hidden in psychology’s closet. One reason, I believe, is that psychology is wedded to a strictly computational view of brain function.

Full story »

Adolescents on the Internet: Issues in Intimacy By Michael F. Shaughnessy, Ph.D. & Russell Eisenman, Ph.D.

January 8th, 2009


Adolescent intimacy has been investigated and theorized about in the past. However, at the present time, the Internet allows adolescents an opportunity to engage in interpersonal communication with adults and to "try out" mature intimate relationships with peers or older adults literally around the world. This paper examines the influence of the Internet on the intimacy development of adolescents and discusses concerns relative to intimacy, including positive and negative aspects, creativity, a case history of Billy, attachment, and more.

Full story »