Cocaine-related alterations in fronto-parietal gray matter volume correlate with trait and behavioral impulsivity.
BACKGROUND: Chronic cocaine use is associated with structural brain abnormalities within prefrontal regions implicated in impulsivity. Despite high levels of impulsivity among persons who use cocaine, it is not known how reductions in gray matter volume (GMV) may relate to trait and behavioral measures of impulsivity. METHODS: The sample included 39 active cocaine users (COC+) and 40 controls with no history of cocaine use (COC-). Participants had a brain scan on a 3 T MRI machine and completed out-of-scanner measures of trait impulsivity and delayed reward discounting. Whole-brain voxel-based morphometry was used to compare GMV between COC+ and COC-. Within regions that differed between groups, voxelwise correlations were conducted to examine the relationship between GMV and impulsivity. RESULTS: In a whole-brain analysis, COC+ had broad reductions in GMV compared to COC- in bilateral frontal, parietal, occipital, and cerebellar regions. Lower GMV correlated with trait impulsivity in lateral prefrontal regions and with delayed reward discounting in medial prefrontal regions, while lower GMV correlated with both measures in the posterior parietal cortex. COC+ demonstrated significantly higher impulsivity than COC- on all measures, but the nature of the correlation with GMV was similar in both groups. CONCLUSIONS: Reflecting the multi-faceted nature of impulsivity, these results show that trait and behavioral measures of impulsivity map differentially onto altered brain morphology. While the brain-behavior patterns were similar in COC+ and COC-, suggesting that impulsivity varies on a continuous spectrum, cocaine-related abnormalities in frontal-parietal brain systems may contribute to heightened impulsivity.
Meade, CS; Bell, RP; Towe, SL; Hall, SA
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