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Common and separable neural alterations in substance use disorders: evidence from coordinate-based meta-analyses of functional neuroimaging studies in human

By Benjamin Klugah-Brown, Xin Di, Jana Zweerings, Klaus Mathiak, Benjamin Becker, Bharat Biswal

Posted 20 Feb 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.19.956755

Delineating common and separable neural alterations in substance use disorders (SUD) is imperative to understand the neurobiological basis of the addictive process and to inform substance-specific treatment strategies. Given numerous functional MRI (fMRI) studies in different SUDs, meta-analysis could provide an opportunity to determine robust shared and substance-specific alterations. The present study employed a coordinate-based meta-analysis covering fMRI studies in individuals with addictive cocaine, cannabis, alcohol, and nicotine use. The primary meta-analysis demonstrated common alterations in primary dorsal striatal, and frontal circuits engaged in reward/salience processing, habit formation, and executive control across different substances and task-paradigms. Subsequent sub-analyses revealed substance-specific alterations in frontal and limbic regions, with marked frontal and insula-thalamic alterations in alcohol and nicotine use disorders respectively. Finally, examining task-specific alterations across substances revealed pronounced frontal alterations during cognitive processes yet stronger striatal alterations during reward-related processes. Together the findings emphasize the role of dysregulations in striato-frontal circuits and dissociable contributions of these systems in the domains of reward-related and cognitive processes which may contribute to substance-specific behavioral alterations.

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