Imaging examines risky decision making on brains of methamphetamine users

May 21, 2014

Methamphetamine users showed less sensitivity to risk and reward in one region of the brain and greater sensitivity in other brain regions compared with non-users when performing an exercise involving risky decision making.

Deficiencies in decision making are linked to addiction. Chronic methamphetamine use is associated with abnormalities in the neural circuits of the brain involved in risky decision making. Faulty decision making is targeted in addiction therapy so understanding its causes could help in the development of more effective treatments.

The authors used functional in a study of 25 methamphetamine users and 27 non-users (controls). The patients were examined at rest and when performing the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), which involves the choice to pump up a balloon to increase earnings or cash out to avoid uncertain risk.

Methamphetamine users earned less than the healthy patients on the BART and they showed less sensitivity to risk and reward in the brain region known as the right (rDLPFC), greater sensitivity in the and greater mesocorticolimbic resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC). The healthy patients had a greater association between the RSFC of the rDLPFC and sensitivity of the rDLPFC to risk during risky decision making. The authors indicate that may suggest that a deficit in rDLPFC connectivity contributes to dysfunction in methamphetamine users.

"These findings suggest that circuit-level abnormalities affect brain function during making in stimulant users." Milky Kohno, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues wrote in their JAMA Psychiatry article.

Explore further: Study suggests increased risk of schizophrenia in heavy methamphetamine users

More information: JAMA Psychiatry. Published online May 21, 2014. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.399

Related Stories

Addiction: Can you ever really completely leave it behind?

September 23, 2013

It is often said that once people develop an addiction, they can never completely eliminate their attraction to the abused substance. New findings provide further support for this notion by suggesting that even long-term ...

Methamphetamine use directly linked to violence

May 7, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers for the first time have found a direct link between use of the drug ice and violence, with a six-fold increase in violent behaviour when chronic users take the drug.

Recommended for you

Serious research into what makes us laugh

November 24, 2015

More complex jokes tend to be funnier but only up to a point, Oxford researchers have found. Jokes that are too complicated tend to lose the audience.

Psychologists dispute continuum theory of sexual orientation

November 19, 2015

Washington State University researchers have established a categorical distinction between people who are heterosexual and those who are not. By analyzing the reported sexual behavior, identity and attraction of more than ...

Babies have logical reasoning before age one, study finds

November 18, 2015

Human infants are capable of deductive problem solving as early as 10 months of age, a new study by psychologists at Emory University and Bucknell finds. The journal Developmental Science is publishing the research, showing ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.