The Role of Positron Emission Imaging (PET) in Understanding Addiction

Dean F. Wong, James Robert Brašić, Emily Gean, Ayon Nandi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This chapter overviews findings in drug addiction research using positron emission tomography (PET), and presents a methodological guide for conducting research in the field. PET makes it possible to visualize the brains of living human beings by tracking radioactive compounds (i.e., radiotracers) targeted for specific biological functions. PET has revealed differences in receptor binding in people with drug abuse versus controls. The chapter discusses the effects of chronic drug use on neurotransmitters. Drugs' effects on the brain are mediated by numerous neurotransmitters and their highly complex interactions. The chapter also presents PET studies of brain glucose metabolism and blood flow and analytic methods used in PET. PET imaging is used extensively to study the changes in dopamine transmission, and receptor/transporter levels. Finally, the chapter addresses limitations, challenges, and future directions for the field. This edition first published 2013

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Addiction Psychopharmacology
PublisherWiley Blackwell
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)9781119978268
StatePublished - Jan 15 2013


  • Blood flow
  • Brain glucose metabolism
  • Chronic drug use
  • Drug addiction
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging


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