Integrating Cognitive Neuroscience Research and Cognitive Behavioral Treatment with Neurofeedback Therapy in Drug Addiction Comorbid with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Conceptual Review


  • Tato M. Sokhadze
  • Christopher M. Stewart
  • Michael Hollifield



Persons with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders have a more persistent and refractory illness course than those without dual diagnosis. However, few studies have assessed the effects of cognitive-behavioral and biobehavioral treatments on brain function and behavioral indices in people with comorbid drug abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this conceptual review, we propose an integrated approach to assessment and treatment utilizing cognitive neuroscience methods, conventional psychotherapeutic treatment and neurofeedback therapy to assess the recovery of cognitive and emotional functions affected by chronic psychostimulant drug abuse co-occurring with PTSD. We review cognitive and motivational factors (e.g., craving, hypersensitivity to drug- and threat-related cues, deficient executive top-down control etc.) involved in addiction and PTSD, and discuss reasons for their persistence and high vulnerability to relapse in cocaine and methamphetamine users with co-morbid PTSD undergoing behavioral treatment. Incorporating neuroscience assessment methods to assess the effects of psychotherapy and neurofeedback interventions for comorbid disorders may provide significant potential for identifying side-by-side psychophysiological with clinical markers of treatment progress, and may also provide useful information for planning interventions.