Increased corticolimbic connectivity in cocaine dependence versus pathological gambling is associated with drug severity and emotion-related impulsivity (2015)

Addict Biol. 2015 Mar 29. doi: 10.1111/adb.12242.

Contreras-Rodríguez O1, Albein-Urios N, Vilar-López R, Perales JC, Martínez-Gonzalez JM, Fernández-Serrano MJ, Lozano-Rojas O, Clark L, Verdejo-García A.


Neural biomarkers for the active detrimental effects of cocaine dependence (CD) are lacking. Direct comparisons of brain connectivity in cocaine-targeted networks between CD and behavioural addictions (i.e. pathological gambling, PG) may be informative. This study therefore contrasted the resting-state functional connectivity networks of 20 individuals with CD, 19 individuals with PG and 21 healthy individuals (controls). Study groups were assessed to rule out psychiatric co-morbidities (except alcohol abuse and nicotine dependence) and current substance use or gambling (except PG). We first examined global connectivity differences in the corticolimbic reward network and then utilized seed-based analyses to characterize the connectivity of regions displaying between-group differences. We examined the relationships between seed-based connectivity and trait impulsivity and cocaine severity. CD compared with PG displayed increased global functional connectivity in a large-scale ventral corticostriatal network involving the orbitofrontal cortex, caudate, thalamus and amygdala. Seed-based analyses showed that CD compared with PG exhibited enhanced connectivity between the orbitofrontal and subgenual cingulate cortices and between caudate and lateral prefrontal cortex, which are involved in representing the value of decision-making feedback. CD and PG compared with controls showed overlapping connectivity changes between the orbitofrontal and dorsomedial prefrontal cortices and between amygdala and insula, which are involved in stimulus-outcome learning. Orbitofrontal-subgenual cingulate cortical connectivity correlated with impulsivity and caudate/amygdala connectivity correlated with cocaine severity. We conclude that CD is linked to enhanced connectivity in a large-scale ventral corticostriatal-amygdala network that is relevant to decision making and likely to reflect an active cocaine detrimental effect.

© 2015 Society for the Study of Addiction.