Relapse or recovery? Neuroimaging predicts course of substance addiction treatment

October 14, 2012
Joshua Brown Credit: Indiana University

An Indiana University study has provided preliminary evidence that by measuring brain activity through the use of neuroimaging, researchers can predict who is likely to have an easier time getting off drugs and alcohol, and who will need extra help.

"We can also see how brain activity changes as people recover from their addictions," said Joshua Brown, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and at Indiana University Bloomington, part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The chronic occurrence of relapse underscores the need for improved methods of treatment and relapse prevention. One potential cause for relapse is deficient self-regulatory control over behavior and decision-making. Specifically this lack of self-regulatory ability in substance dependent individuals has been associated with dysfunction of a mesolimbic-frontal brain network. Reduced activity within this self-regulatory brain network has previously been implicated in relapse, but the specific relationship between this network, self-regulatory ability and recovery is yet to be determined.

The current study explores neurophysiological and cognitive indicators of self-regulatory ability in a community-based sample of substance dependent individuals during the first three months of . The study tests participants' risk-taking inclinations through what is called a Balloon Analog Risk Task, a game in which the participants can decide whether to add increasing amounts of air to a balloon, gaining rewards until it pops. Those who took greater risks were shown to have reduced brain activity. By the same token, those who took less risk showed greater . By three months those who were successful in treatment also demonstrated a pattern of that coincided with the of cues during the balloon risk task decision-making. In individuals who relapsed, risk-related activation was limited to certain , possibly signaling the anticipated reward rather than the risk of negative outcome.

The study, "Neural predictors and indicators of successful early recovery in substance dependent individuals," will be discussed from 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday in Hall F-J. Co-authors are S.E. Forster; and Peter R. Finn, also of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Explore further: Structural and functional abnormalities found in brains of relapsed alcohol-dependent patients

Related Stories

For depression, relapsers go to the front of the brain

August 22, 2011

Depression is increasingly recognized as an illness that strikes repeatedly over the lifespan, creating cycles of relapse and recovery. This sobering knowledge has prompted researchers to search for markers of relapse risk ...

Possible tool to help cocaine users kick the habit

October 7, 2011

Medicines which increase levels of the brain chemical dopamine may hold the key to helping those addicted to cocaine and amphetamines kick the habit, researchers from the University of Cambridge have found.

Recommended for you

A novel principle to mobilize neurons for brain repair

February 21, 2017

Restorative neuroscience, the study to identify means to replace damaged neurons and recover permanently lost mental or physical abilities, is a rapidly advancing scientific field considering our progressively aging society. ...

Mercury in fish, seafood may be linked to higher risk of ALS

February 20, 2017

Eating fish and seafood with higher levels of mercury may be linked to a higher risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of ...

Stem cell transplants may help some with multiple sclerosis

February 20, 2017

(HealthDay)—Stem cell transplants may halt the progression of aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) in nearly half of those with the debilitating disease, but picking the right patients for the treatment is key, a new study ...

0 comments

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.