Carla Clark, PhD

Psychology & Psychiatry Section Editor
key insights
  • There are two areas of the brain where addiction is most actively seen. 1. Inhibitory control network: it’s the area of the brain that allows a person to stop doing something (alter your behavior). Addicts have a tougher time saying no to drugs because the inhibitory control is in hypo activation. It is easier to measure this area of the brain since it’s located at the prefrontal cortex. 2. Reward center: Is where risk versus reward is skewed; high risky behavior is often ignored. Located deep inside the brain.
  • Currently, there are three technologies able to detect these two areas: 1. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) – great accuracy at the neurological level, but slow with timing. 2. Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIR) – an emerging functional neuroimaging technology. It’s relatively non-invasive, safe, portable and low-cost. 3. Electroencephalography (EEG) – looks at the electrical impulses in the brain (using electrodes placed along the scalp); quicker than fMRI.
  • Combining neurological and behavioral metrics will improve the accuracy in detection early signs of relapse. Relying on just one category is not entirely reliable. • Sleep disturbances are a high indicator of relapse.
  • When trauma happens and a person’s inhibitory control is defunct, relapse is likely to occur. • Addiction recovery is all about stress management.
  • IDEAS FOR THE CHALLENGE: • Seek a technology that’s precise, timely, and reliable. • Behavioral measurements can be the inhibitory control indicators. • You may consider low, medium and high-risk alerts. If someone’s behavioral indicators are erratic, but their neurological indicators are stable, send a low or medium risk alert. If both indicators are abnormal, send a high risk alert. Once the high-risk alert has been sound, increase the technologies preventative features. Such as having the user engage in Approach Avoidance Tasks to manage stress.