Neural correlates of high and craving during cocaine self-administration using BOLD fMRI

Robert C. Risinger, Betty Jo Salmeron, Thomas J. Ross, Shelley L. Amen, Michael Sanfilipo, Raymond G. Hoffmann, Alan S. Bloom, Hugh Garavan, Elliot A. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern theories of drug dependence hold the hedonic effects of drug-taking central to understanding the motivation for compulsive drug use. Previous neuroimaging studies have begun to identify brain regions associated with acute drug effects after passive delivery. In this study, a more naturalistic model of cocaine self-administration (SA) was employed in order to identify those sites associated with drug-induced high and craving as measures of reward and motivation. Non-treatment seeking cocaine-dependent subjects chose both when and how often i.v. cocaine administration occurred within a medically supervised SA procedure. Both functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data and real-time behavioral ratings were acquired during the 1-h SA period. Drug-induced HIGH was found to correlate negatively with activity in limbic, paralimbic, and mesocortical regions including the nucleus accumbens (NAc), inferior frontal/orbitofrontal gyrus (OFC), and anterior cingulate (AC), while CRAVING correlated positively with activity in these regions. This study provides the first evidence in humans that changes in subjective state surrounding cocaine self-administration reflect neural activity of the endogenous reward system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1108
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 15 2005


  • Cocaine
  • Drug abuse
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neurobiology
  • Reinforcement
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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