Cocaine addiction is characterized by impulsivity, impaired social relationships, and abnormal mesocorticolimbic reward processing, but their interrelationships relative to stages of cocaine addiction are unclear. We assessed blood-oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) signal in ventral and dorsal striatum during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in current (CCD; n = 30) and former (FCD; n = 28) cocaine dependent subjects as well as healthy control (HC; n = 31) subjects while playing an interactive competitive Domino game involving risk-taking and reward/punishment processing. Out-of-scanner impulsivity-related measures were also collected. Although both FCD and CCD subjects scored significantly higher on impulsivity-related measures than did HC subjects, only FCD subjects had differences in striatal activation, specifically showing hypoactivation during their response to gains versus losses in right dorsal caudate, a brain region linked to habituation, cocaine craving and addiction maintenance. Right caudate activity in FCD subjects also correlated negatively with impulsivity-related measures of self-reported compulsivity and sensitivity to reward. These findings suggest that remitted cocaine dependence is associated with striatal dysfunction during social reward processing in a manner linked to compulsivity and reward sensitivity measures. Future research should investigate the extent to which such differences might reflect underlying vulnerabilities linked to cocaine-using propensities (e.g., relapses).
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