Alcohol-associated stimuli activate the ventral striatum in abstinent alcoholics.
ABSTRACT Alcohol-associated cues may act as conditioned stimuli that activate the brain reward system and motivate alcohol intake in alcoholics. Alcohol-associated visual stimuli were presented during functional magnetic resonance imaging. An activation of the ventral putamen was observed in alcoholics but not in control subjects. Patients with a strong activation of the ventral putamen relapsed during the next three months. This observation supports the hypothesis that alcohol use affects areas involved in brain reward circuits and that their stimulus-induced activation may be associated with an increased risk for relapse.
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ABSTRACT: With the progression of substance dependence, drug cue-related brain activation is thought to shift from motivational towards habit pathways. However, a direct association between cue-induced brain activation and dependence duration has not yet been shown. We therefore examined the relationship between alcohol cue-reactivity in the brain, cue-induced subjective craving and alcohol dependence duration and severity. Since alcohol dependence is highly comorbid with depression/anxiety, which may modulate brain responses to alcohol cues, we also examined the relation between comorbid depression/anxiety and cue-reactivity. We compared 30 alcohol dependent patients with 15 healthy controls and 15 depression/anxiety patients during a visual alcohol cue-reactivity task using functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygenated level-dependent responses and subjective craving as outcomes. Within the alcohol dependent group we correlated cue-reactivity with alcohol dependence severity and duration, with cue-induced craving and with depression/anxiety levels. Alcohol dependent patients showed greater cue-reactivity in motivational brain pathways and stronger subjective craving than depression/anxiety patients and healthy controls. Depression/anxiety was not associated with cue-reactivity, but depression severity in alcohol dependent patients was positively associated with craving. Within alcohol dependence, longer duration of alcohol dependence was associated with stronger cue-related activation of the posterior putamen, a structure involved in habits, whereas higher alcohol dependence severity was associated with lower cue-reactivity in the anterior putamen, an area implicated in goal-directed behavior preceding habit formation. Cue-reactivity in alcohol dependence is not modulated by comorbid depression or anxiety. More importantly, the current data confirm the hypothesis of a ventral to dorsal striatal shift of learning processes with longer dependence duration, which could underlie increasingly habitual substance use with progressing substance dependence.PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e84560. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Although altered function in neural reward circuitry is widely proposed in models of addiction, more recent conceptual views have emphasized the role of disrupted response in prefrontal regions. Changes in regions such as the orbitofrontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are postulated to contribute to the compulsivity, impulsivity, and altered executive function that are central to addiction. In addition, few studies have examined function in these regions during young adulthood, when exposure is less chronic than in typical samples of alcohol-dependent adults. To address these issues, we examined neural response and functional connectivity during monetary reward in 24 adults with alcohol dependence and 24 psychiatrically healthy adults. Adults with alcohol dependence exhibited less response to the receipt of monetary reward in a set of prefrontal regions including the medial prefrontal cortex, lateral orbitofrontal cortex, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Adults with alcohol dependence also exhibited greater negative correlation between function in each of these regions and that in the nucleus accumbens. Within the alcohol-dependent group, those with family history of alcohol dependence exhibited lower mPFC response, and those with more frequent drinking exhibited greater negative functional connectivity between the mPFC and the nucleus accumbens. These findings indicate that alcohol dependence is associated with less engagement of prefrontal cortical regions, suggesting weak or disrupted regulation of ventral striatal response. This pattern of prefrontal response and frontostriatal connectivity has consequences for the behavior patterns typical of addiction. Furthermore, brain-behavior findings indicate that the potential mechanisms of disruption in frontostriatal circuitry in alcohol dependence include family liability to alcohol use problems and more frequent use of alcohol. In all, these findings build on the extant literature on reward-circuit function in addiction and suggest mechanisms for disrupted function in alcohol dependence.PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(5):e94640. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Craving induction in a controlled environment is helpful in the research of craving mechanism and its role in development of alcohol dependence (AD). We describe a novel tool Visual Image-induced Craving for Ethanol (VICE) and its effects on brain activation with pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine 04/2014; 36(2):164-9.