Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Psychiatry. 2008 Mar;165(3):390-4. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Acute effect of methadone maintenance dose on brain FMRI response to heroin-related cues.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Treatment Research Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



Environmental drug-related cues have been implicated as a cause of illicit heroin use during methadone maintenance treatment of heroin dependence. The authors sought to identify the functional neuroanatomy of the brain response to visual heroin-related stimuli in methadone maintenance patients.


Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to compare brain responses to heroin-related stimuli and matched neutral stimuli in 25 patients in methadone maintenance treatment. Patients were studied before and after administration of their regular daily methadone dose.


The heightened responses to heroin-related stimuli in the insula, amygdala, and hippocampal complex, but not the orbitofrontal and ventral anterior cingulate cortices, were acutely reduced after administration of the daily methadone dose.


The medial prefrontal cortex and the extended limbic system in methadone maintenance patients with a history of heroin dependence remains responsive to salient drug cues, which suggests a continued vulnerability to relapse. Vulnerability may be highest at the end of the 24-hour interdose interval.

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center