Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Scarcity begets addiction

Giorgio A. Ascoli a1 and Kevin A. McCabe a2
a1 Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, Psychology Department, and Neuroscience Program, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444;
a2 Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, Economics Department, and School of Law, George Mason University, Arlington, VA 22201.

Article author query
ascoli ga   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
mccabe ka   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


As prototypical incentive with biological meaning, food illustrates the distinction between money as tool and money as drug. However, consistent neuroscience results challenge this view of food as intrinsic value and opposite to drugs of abuse. The scarce availability over evolutionary time of both food and money may explain their similar drug-like non-satiability, suggesting an integrated mechanism for generalized reinforcers.

(Published Online April 5 2006)