Clear evidence supports a genetic basis for substance abuse disorders. Yet, the search to identify individual gene contributions has been unsuccessful. Here, Belcher and colleagues argue for the study of endophenotypes within the frame of individual differences, and identify three high-order personality traits that are tied to specific brain systems and genes, and that offer a useful approach to studying substance abuse disorders. They present the argument that these personality traits, and the genes that moderate them, interact dynamically with the environment and with the drugs themselves to determine ultimately an individual’s susceptibility.

Belcher AM, Volkow ND, Moeller FG, Ferré S: Personality traits and vulnerability or resilience to substance use disorders. Trends Cognitive Sci. 18(4): 211-217 (2014).

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