2.2.2 The role of the prefrontal cortex in AUD
So far you have been learning about the role that dopamine plays in AUD, and you may remember from Week 5 that dopamine is released by a region of the brain known as the ventral tegmental area.
However, another brain region that plays an important role in AUD is the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The PFC is important for self-control or restraint and, in particular, inhibiting behaviour that is not socially appropriate or acceptable. Parts of the PFC are therefore thought to be involved in imposing the restraint that prevents most people from developing an addiction. However – importantly – the long-term use of alcohol can change the structure of the brain, including the structure of the PFC. In individuals who consume alcohol chronically, the PFC is reduced in size and so this affects self-control.