Addiction in the brain: Ethically sound implementation in governance


Addiction in the Brain: Ethically Sound Implementation in Governance (A-BRAIN)

The project Addiction in the brain: Ethically Sound Implementation in Governance (A-BRAIN) studies the use and the implementation of neuroscientific research on addictions. The foundation of brain-based knowledge on addiction is the Brain Disease Model of Addiction (BDMA). This model explains and treats addictions by referring to the mechanisms in the brain. The model has, however, shown to neglect contextual and social factors and even the neuroscientific evidence itself is still far from being conclusive. Despite this, there are big hopes that the implementation of this model could revolutionize treating and handling addictions.

A-BRAIN studies the articulation and spread of the BDMA in different contexts: public media; scientific community, experts and policy-makers; prevention programs; and clients and staff in addiction treatment. Methods employed are surveys, group interviews and media content analysis.

The international research consortium executing this project will develop guidelines for the implementation of neuroscientific research into the praxis of dealing with addictions in society. These guidelines take into account ethical considerations as well as the perspective of various groups concerned with addictions. The project will also develop and test a new instrument of measurement of attitudes towards the BDMA. The results also feed back into the neuroscientific research itself by communicating societal expectations and needs in the light of a sound implementation of neuroscientific research results.

Funding period

Begin:   April 2018
End:   March 2022


  • Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Technology


Dr. phil. Sarah Forberger

Project management (international)

Matilda Hellman, Department of Social Science Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finnland


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