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The association between cue-reactivity in the precuneus and level of dependence on nicotine and alcohol


Background: Given numerous reports implicating involvement of the precuneus in cue-reactivity paradigms, the goal of this investigation was to examine the relationship between activation of the precuneus in response to drug cues and measures of subjective craving and severity of dependence in volunteers who were comorbid for alcohol and nicotine abuse. Methods: Forty research participants, who all reported heavy drinking and daily smoking, were recruited (15 women; 70% Caucasian; mean age. = 31.2 years) for a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) session involving a cigarette video-cues task and an alcohol taste-cues task. Mean precuneus activation from both tasks during cue presentation was subjected to bivariate correlation analyses with indices of dependence severity and subjective craving. Results: Precuneus activation in the contrast of Cigarette Cues vs. Control Cues was positively correlated with scores on the Fagerström Test of Nicotine Dependence (r= 0.389, p= 0.016), and activation in the Alcohol Cues vs. Control Cues contrast was positively correlated with Alcohol Dependence Scale scores (r= 0.338, p= 0.038). No correlations with subjective craving were observed (ps. >. 0.05). Conclusions: These findings indicate that the precuneus is involved in cue reactivity for both cigarettes and alcohol, and that this involvement is moderated by severity of drug dependence. The precuneus may be a cortical locus for neuroplastic changes related to drug dependence. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

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