Neural correlates of attentional bias for smoking cues: modulation by variance in the dopamine transporter gene.
ABSTRACT Cigarette-dependent smokers automatically and involuntarily orient attention toward smoking cues (SCs). This attentional bias is clinically significant, as it may contribute to relapse. Thus, identifying neural and genetic correlates of attentional bias is critical for improving interventions. Our previous studies show that the dopamine transporter (DAT) SLC6A3 genotype exerts profound effects on limbic responses to SCs. One potential mechanism underlying these effects is greater attentional bias for SCs. Here, we explored associations between attentional bias for SCs and neural responses to SCs among 'sated' smokers genotyped for the SLC6A3 polymorphism. Pseudo-continuous arterial spin-labeled perfusion functional magnetic resonance imaging images were acquired during SC exposure in 35 smokers genotyped for the SLC6A3 variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism (n = 16, 9-repeats; n = 19, 10/10-repeats). Participants completed a visual dot-probe attentional bias task, which contained pictures of smoking and non-smoking pictures, to examine whether genetic variation in DAT influences attentional bias and to investigate relationships between attentional bias and neural responses to SCs. Although attentional bias to smoking pictures was not significantly different between 9-repeats and 10/10-repeats, 9-repeats showed a positive correlation between attentional bias and increased SC-induced brain activity in the amygdala, whereas 10/10-repeats showed an inverse correlation in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC). In group comparisons, 9-repeats exhibited positive correlations between attentional bias and SCs in the mOFC and amygdala, relative to 10/10-repeats. Findings suggest that genetic variation in the DAT gene influences brain responses associated with attentional bias; thus, providing additional support for a SC-vulnerable endophenotype.
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ABSTRACT: Substance abusers have difficulty ignoring drug-related cues, which is associated with relapse vulnerability. This 'attentional bias' towards drug cues translates into an inability to ignore drug-related stimuli and may reflect deficits in brain regions such as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC)-a key region in cognitive control and adaptive decision-making. Quantifying relationships between attentional biases to drug cues and dACC neurochemistry could aid in identifying neurobiological mechanisms associated with increased relapse vulnerability precipitated by drug cues. As gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) deficits have been linked to impaired cognition and addictive disorders, we hypothesized that reduced GABA in the dACC would be associated with increased attentional biases towards smoking-related cues. We confirmed this hypothesis among nicotine-dependent tobacco smokers by combining an offline behavioral measure of attentional bias with magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Smokers with the greatest attentional bias also experienced more negative affect during early nicotine withdrawal. Findings revealed a relationship between heightened reactivity to drug cues and both decreasing dACC GABA and early withdrawal symptoms. Because reduced GABA function in frontal brain regions disrupt cognitive function, our findings suggest that smokers with diminished dACC GABA may lack the cognitive resources to successfully ignore highly salient distractors such as tobacco-related stimuli and therefore might be more prone to cue-induced relapse. This newly discovered relationship between dACC GABA and attentional bias provides evidence for a neurochemical target, which may aid smoking cessation in highly cue-reactive individuals.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 10 January 2013; doi:10.1038/npp.2013.10.Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 01/2013; 38(6). DOI:10.1038/npp.2013.10 · 7.83 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: When exposed to the sights, sounds, smells and/or places that have been associated with rewards, such as food or drugs, some individuals have difficulty resisting the temptation to seek out and consume them. Others have less difficulty restraining themselves. Thus, Pavlovian reward cues may motivate maladaptive patterns of behavior to a greater extent in some individuals than in others. We are just beginning to understand the factors underlying individual differences in the extent to which reward cues acquire powerful motivational properties, and therefore, the ability to act as incentive stimuli. Here we review converging evidence from studies in both human and non-human animals suggesting that a subset of individuals are more "cue reactive", in that certain reward cues are more likely to attract these individuals to them and motivate actions to get them. We suggest that those individuals for whom Pavlovian reward cues become especially powerful incentives may be more vulnerable to impulse control disorders, such as binge eating and addiction.Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 02/2013; 37(9). DOI:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.02.008 · 10.28 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background Anecdotal and clinical theories purport that females are more responsive to smoking cues, yet few objective, neurophysiological examinations of these theories have been conducted. The current study examines the impact of sex on brain responses to smoking cues. Methods Fifty-one (31 males) cigarette-dependent sated smokers underwent pseudo-continuous arterial spin-labeled perfusion functional magnetic resonance imaging during exposure to visual smoking cues and non-smoking cues. Brain responses to smoking cues relative to non-smoking cues were examined within males and females separately and then compared between males and females. Cigarettes smoked per day was included in analyses as a covariate. Results Both males and females showed increased responses to smoking cues compared to non-smoking cues with males exhibiting increased medial orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum/ventral pallidum responses, and females showing increased medial orbitofrontal cortex responses. Direct comparisons between male and female brain responses revealed that males showed greater bilateral hippocampal/amygdala activation to smoking cues relative to non-smoking cues. Conclusions Males and females exhibit similar responses to smoking cues relative to non-smoking cues in a priori reward-related regions; however, direct comparisons between sexes indicate that smoking cues evoke greater bilateral hippocampal/amygdalar activation among males. Given the current literature on sex differences in smoking cue neural activity is sparse and incomplete, these results contribute to our knowledge of the neurobiological underpinnings of drug cue reactivity.04/2013; 4(1):9. DOI:10.1186/2042-6410-4-9