Dardo Tomasi1, Nora D. Volkow2, Ruiliang L. Wang1, Jean H. Carrillo1,3, Thomas Maloney1, Nelly Alia-Klein1, Patricia A. Woicik1, Frank Telang1, Rita Z. Goldstein1
1Medical Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY, USA; 2National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Health, Bethesda, MD, USA; 3Department of Computer Science, SUNY , Stony Brook, NY, USA
Chronic cocaine use decreases brain dopamine activity. However the functional effects of this disruption are largely unknown. We used fMRI and seed-voxel correlation analyses to study brain activation to a cognitive-emotional (drug Stroop-like; DS) task and the functional connectivity (fcMRI) between midbrain and forebrain. Cocaine abusers had lower DS activation in the thalamus and lower fcMRI between the thalamus and midbrain than controls, consistently with dopaminergic neuroadaptations resulting from repeated cocaine use. These findings suggest that lower subcortical recruitment and larger cortical recruitment is mediated by abnormal fcMRI of catecholamine (dopamine and noradrenaline) pathways in cocaine abusers.