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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Nov 1;133(1):235-41. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.04.029. Epub 2013 Jun 2.

Hyperactivation of the cognitive control network in cocaine use disorders during a multisensory Stroop task.

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  • 1The Mind Research Network/Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute, 1101 Yale Boulevard, Albuquerque, NM 87106, USA; Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA; Neurology Department, University of New Mexico, School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA. Electronic address:



It has been suggested that individuals with cocaine use disorders (chronic cocaine abusers, CCA) have impairments in cognitive control, which likely contribute to impairments in decision making around drug use and relapse. However, deficits in cognitive control have currently only been studied under conditions of unisensory stimulation, which may not be reflective of more realistic multisensory drug cues.


The current study employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure neuronal activity during a multisensory numeric Stroop task.


Despite few differences in reaction time, recently abstinent CCA (N=14) exhibited increased activation in prefrontal cortex, striatum and thalamus during cognitive control relative to a group of carefully matched controls (N=16). Importantly, these neuronal differences were relatively robust in classifying patients from controls (approximately 90% accuracy) and evident during conditions of both low (slow stimulus presentation rate) and relatively high (faster stimulus presentation rate) cognitive demand. In addition, CCA also failed to deactivate the default-mode network during high frequency visual trials.


In summary, current results indicate compensatory activation within the cognitive control network in recently abstinent CCA to achieve similar levels of behavioral performance.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


Cocaine; Cognitive control; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Stroop

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