Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) is the area that synthesizes dopamine, which then sends to nucleus accumbens. Nucelus accumbens is the pleasure center, and it is stimulated by the neurotransmitter dopamine from VTA. VTA also sends dopamine to prefrontal cortex which regulates and controls these impulses. The locus coeruleus is the area packed with norepinephrine; and when stimulated by a lack of the addictive substance, will drives the person to do anything necessary to obtain a fix.
WELL CONNECTED Neurons (green) in the lateral hypothalamus connect with those in the ventral tegmental area of mice’s brains to contribute to compulsive sugar consumption. ~~ Courtesy of Edward Nieh/MIT
Illustration of the structures that compose the limbic system in the brain, including the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, nucleus accumbens, basal ganglia, and ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra.