Kevin Sean Murnane1, Leonard Lee Howell1
Both cocaine and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) are drugs with a high propensity for abuse yet they have distinct behavioral and neurochemical effects. We compared the changes in blood oxygenation elicited by cocaine (0.3 mg/kg, i.v.) and MDMA (0.3 mg/kg, i.v.) in rhesus monkeys using BOLD fMRI. The effects of cocaine were localized to dorsal prefrontal cortex (PFC) whereas MDMAs were localized to ventral PFC. Therefore, the neural circuitry engaged by these compounds appears to regulate their behavioral effects. As such, the use of fMRI allows for a novel approach to determine the mechanism of drugs of abuse.