Enhanced striatal responses during expectancy coding in alcohol dependence

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Individuals with alcohol dependence are known to make disadvantageous decisions, possibly caused by alterations in either reward or punishment sensitivity, which lead to persistent alcohol use despite its adverse consequences. Previous studies in alcohol dependence have mainly focused on reward anticipation processing and results from these studies are mixed. To clarify the nature of the motivational deficit that underlies disadvantageous choice in alcohol dependence, the current study sought to characterize the neural representation of expected value in individuals with alcohol dependence, separating expectancy-related processing of gains and losses, as a function of outcome magnitude and outcome probability. Functional MRI was used to examine brain responses during the expectation of gains and losses in patients with alcohol dependence (n=19) and healthy controls (n=19). The task manipulated outcome magnitude (€1 and €5) and outcome probability (30% and 70%). Compared to healthy controls, patients with alcohol dependence were more responsive to the expectancy of large wins, in the caudate and putamen. This effect was driven by a higher caudate activity in the contrast comparing €5 vs. €1 trials in patients with alcohol dependence. There were no group differences in the responses to the expectancy for loss. The patient group reported lower expectancies of winning in the trial-by-trial ratings. Patients with alcohol dependence showed caudate hyperactivity when expecting wins. The result contrasts with past work using the monetary incentive delay task, showing caudate hypoactivity; the passive nature of our task contrasts with an active response requirement in the MIDT studies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-208
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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