Adolescent psychotherapy for addiction medicine: From brain development to neurocognitive treatment mechanisms

Rachel E. Thayer, Sarah Feldstein Ewing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Effectively treating addiction is a challenge among any population, and treatment for adolescents may be particularly challenging in the context of ongoing neurodevelopment, which may alter the brain's initial response to substances as well as its response to treatment. One way to improve treatment outcomes for youth is to use a translational perspective that explicitly connects cognitive and neurodevelopmental fields with the field of behavioral therapies. This integrative approach is a potential first step to inform the correspondence between the neurocognitive and behavioral fields in youth addiction. This chapter seeks to provide context for neurocognitive treatment studies by first discussing recent structural and functional neuroimaging studies showing associations with substance use or behavioral addictions. Several regions of interest are then proposed that appear to also be associated with addiction treatment across multiple studies, namely, the accumbens/striatum, precuneus, insula, anterior cingulate cortex, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This research suggests that reward, self-reflective, and executive control areas might be especially relevant in youth behavioral treatment response, and preliminary evidence suggests that existing treatments may encourage neurocognitive changes in these areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProgress in Brain Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2015


  • Addiction
  • Adolescence
  • Neuroimaging
  • Psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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