Background Alcohol abuse is a common and costly practice. Individuals high in negative urgency, the tendency to act rashly when experiencing negative emotions, are at particular risk for abusing alcohol. Alcohol abuse among individuals high in negative urgency may be due to (a) increased activity in the brain's striatum, (b) decreased activity in brain regions associated with self-control, or (c) a combination of the two. Methods Thirty eight non-alcohol-dependent participants completed a measure of negative urgency and then underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while passively viewing pleasant and alcohol images. Results Alcohol images (as compared to pleasant images) were associated with activation in the caudate nucleus, a brain region associated with linking reward to external stimuli. Negative urgency (above and beyond other facets of impulsivity) correlated positively with this caudate activation in response to alcohol images. Alcohol images and negative urgency were unassociated with activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex, a self-regulatory brain region. Conclusions These findings provide initial support that the alcohol abuse observed among individuals high in negative urgency may be due, in part, to heightened reactivity in the striatum to alcohol. Investigating such neural contributors to self-regulation failure is crucial to reducing substance abuse.
|Journal||Drug and Alcohol Dependence|
|State||Published - Jun 1 2016|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This experiment was funded by a grant from the University of Kentucky’s Center for Drug Abuse Research and Translation (CDART; Sponsor: National Institute on Drug Abuse , Grant number: DA005312 ) to DRL, RM, and CND, and a grant from the National Science Foundation (Grant number: BCS1104118 ) to CND. The authors are grateful to Richard S. Pond Jr. for their assistance with data collection.
© 2016 The Authors
- Caudate nucleus
- Negative urgency
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology (medical)