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Behav Brain Res. 2011 Jan 20;216(2):639-46. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.09.004. Epub 2010 Sep 20.

Identification of hyperactive intrinsic amygdala network connectivity associated with impulsivity in abstinent heroin addicts.

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  • 1School of Clinical Medicine, Southeast University, Nanjing, PR China.


Impulsivity is a pathological hallmark of drug addiction. However, little is known about the neuropsychological underpinnings of this impaired impulsive control network on drug addiction. Twenty two abstinent heroin dependent (HD) subjects and 15 cognitively normal (CN) subjects participated in this study. Resting-state functional connectivity MRI was employed to measure abnormalities in the intrinsic amygdala functional connectivity (iAFC) network activity and the Barratt Impulsive Scale, 11th version was used to measure impulsivity. Linear regression analysis was applied to detect the neural constructs underlying impulsivity by correlating iAFC network activity with impulsive scores. In the HD group, higher impulsivity scores and significantly enhanced iAFC network activity were found, especially in bilateral thalamus, right insula, and inferior frontal gyrus. Markedly decreased anticorrelated iAFC network activity was seen in the left precuneus, and even switched to positive correlation pattern in right precuneus, relative to the CN group. The iAFC network strengths in the HD group were positively correlated with impulsivity in the right subcallosal gyrus, insula, thalamus and posterior cingulate cortex, and negatively correlated in left fusiform area. In the CN group, the left pre-somamotor area-amygdala connectivity was positively correlated, and right orbital frontal cortex-amygdala and precuneus-amygdala connectivity were negatively correlated with impulsivity scores. Our study demonstrates different constructs of the impulsive network in HD and CN subjects. Altered iAFC network connectivity in HD subjects may contribute to the loss of impulsive control. This further facilitates our understanding of the neural underpinnings of behavior dysfunction in addiction.

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