Neural activation to monetary reward is associated with amphetamine reward sensitivity

Natania A. Crane, Stephanie M. Gorka, Jessica Weafer, Scott A. Langenecker, Harriet De Wit, K. Luan Phan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


One known risk factor for drug use and abuse is sensitivity to rewarding effects of drugs. It is not known whether this risk factor extends to sensitivity to non-drug rewards. In this study with healthy young adults, we examined the association between sensitivity to the subjective rewarding effects of amphetamine and a neural indicator of anticipation of monetary reward. We hypothesized that greater euphorigenic response to amphetamine would be associated with greater neural activation to anticipation of monetary reward (Win > Loss). Healthy participants (N = 61) completed four laboratory sessions in which they received d-amphetamine (20 mg) and placebo in alternating order, providing self-report measures of euphoria and stimulation at regular intervals. At a separate visit 1-3 weeks later, participants completed the guessing reward task (GRT) during fMRI in a drug-free state. Participants reporting greater euphoria after amphetamine also exhibited greater neural activation during monetary reward anticipation in mesolimbic reward regions, including the bilateral caudate and putamen. This is the first study to show a relationship between neural correlates of monetary reward and sensitivity to the subjective rewarding effects of amphetamine in humans. These findings support growing evidence that sensitivity to reward in general is a risk factor for drug use and abuse, and suggest that sensitivity of drug-induced euphoria may reflect a general sensitivity to rewards. This may be an index of vulnerability for drug use or abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1738-1744
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This publication was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (R01DA002812, PIs: H.d.W. and K.L.P.). S.M.G. was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (K23AA025111, PI: S.M.G.) and J.W. was supported by NIAAA (K01AA024519, PI: J.W.). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIDA, NIAAA, or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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