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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Feb;36(2):825-35. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.12.004. Epub 2011 Dec 17.

Functional neuroimaging studies in addiction: multisensory drug stimuli and neural cue reactivity.

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Institute of Medical Psychology, Goethe-University, Heinrich-Hoffmann-Strasse 10, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Neuroimaging studies on cue reactivity have substantially contributed to the understanding of addiction. In the majority of studies drug cues were presented in the visual modality. However, exposure to conditioned cues in real life occurs often simultaneously in more than one sensory modality. Therefore, multisensory cues should elicit cue reactivity more consistently than unisensory stimuli and increase the ecological validity and the reliability of brain activation measurements. This review includes the data from 44 whole-brain functional neuroimaging studies with a total of 1168 subjects (812 patients and 356 controls). Correlations between neural cue reactivity and clinical covariates such as craving have been reported significantly more often for multisensory than unisensory cues in the motor cortex, insula and posterior cingulate cortex. Thus, multisensory drug cues are particularly effective in revealing brain-behavior relationships in neurocircuits of addiction responsible for motivation, craving awareness and self-related processing.

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