Cue Reactivity Is Associated with Duration and Severity of Alcohol Dependence: An fMRI Study

Zsuzsika Sjoerds*, Wim van den Brink, Aartjan T. F. Beekman, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, Dick J. Veltman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Introduction: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusion: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere84560
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6-Jan-2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • DORSAL STRIATUM
  • PSYCHOMETRIC PROPERTIES
  • INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES
  • ABSTINENT ALCOHOLICS
  • VENTRAL STRIATUM
  • COCAINE-SEEKING
  • DRUG-ADDICTION
  • DOPAMINE
  • ANXIETY
  • ACTIVATION

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