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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2012 May;38(3):251-9. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2011.644000. Epub 2012 Jan 19.

Impaired cognitive performance in subjects with methamphetamine dependence during exposure to neutral versus methamphetamine-related cues.

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Clinical Neuroscience Division, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, 29425, USA.



Chronic methamphetamine abuse is associated with cognitive deficits that may impede treatment in methamphetamine-dependent patients. Exposure to methamphetamine-related cues can elicit intense craving in chronic users of the drug, but the effects of exposure to drug cues on cognitive performance in these individuals are unknown.


This study assessed whether exposure to methamphetamine-related visual cues can elicit craving and/or alter dual task cognitive performance in 30 methamphetamine-dependent subjects and 30 control subjects in the laboratory.


Reaction time, response errors, and inhibition errors were assessed on an auditory Go-No Go task performed by adult participants (total N = 60) while watching neutral versus methamphetamine-related video cues. Craving was assessed with the Within-Session Rating Scale modified for methamphetamine-dependent subjects.


Exposure to methamphetamine-related cues elicited craving only in methamphetamine-dependent subjects. Even in the absence of methamphetamine cues, methamphetamine-dependent subjects exhibited slower reaction times and higher rates of both inhibition and response errors than control subjects did. Upon exposure to methamphetamine cues, rates of both response errors and inhibition errors increased significantly in methamphetamine-dependent subjects. Control subjects exhibited no increase in inhibition errors and only slightly increased rates of response errors upon exposure to methamphetamine cues. Response error rates, but not inhibition error rates or reaction times, during methamphetamine cue exposure were significantly associated with craving scores in methamphetamine-dependent subjects.


Methamphetamine-dependent individuals exhibit cognitive performance deficits that are more pronounced during exposure to methamphetamine-related cues. Interventions that reduce cue reactivity may have utility in the treatment of methamphetamine dependence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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