Error processing in current and former cocaine users

Brian C. Castelluccio, Shashwath A. Meda, Christine E. Muska, Michael C. Stevens, Godfrey D. Pearlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deficits in response inhibition and error processing can result in maladaptive behavior, including failure to use past mistakes to inform present decisions. A specific deficit in inhibiting a prepotent response represents one aspect of impulsivity and is a prominent feature of addictive behaviors in general, including cocaine abuse/dependence. Brain regions implicated in cognitive control exhibit reduced activation in cocaine abusers. The purposes of the present investigation were (1) to identify neural differences associated with error processing in current and former cocaine-dependent individuals compared to healthy controls and (2) to determine whether former, long-term abstinent cocaine users showed similar differences compared with current users. The present study used an fMRI Go/No-Go task to investigate differences in BOLD response to correct rejections and false alarms between current cocaine users (n = 30), former cocaine users (n = 29), and healthy controls (n = 35). Impulsivity trait measures were also assessed and compared with BOLD activity. Nineteen regions of interest previously implicated in errors of disinhibition were queried. There were no group differences in the correct rejections condition, but both current and former users exhibited increased BOLD response relative to controls for false alarms. In current users, the pregenual cingulate gyrus and left angular/supramarginal gyri overactivated. In former users, the right middle frontal/precentral gyri, right inferior parietal lobule, and left angular/supramarginal gyri overactivated. Overall, our results support a hypothesis that neural activity in former users differs more from healthy controls than that of current users due to cognitive compensation that facilitates abstinence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Abstinence
  • Cingulate
  • Cocaine
  • Drug abuse
  • Inhibition
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Error processing in current and former cocaine users'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this