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Chronic methamphetamine abuse and corticostriatal deficits revealed by neuroimaging

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Despite aggressive efforts to contain it, methamphetamine use disorder continues to be major public health problem; and with generic behavioral therapies still the mainstay of treatment for methamphetamine abuse, rates of attrition and relapse remain high. This review summarizes the findings of structural, molecular, and functional neuroimaging studies of methamphetamine abusers, focusing on cortical and striatal abnormalities and their potential contributions to cognitive and behavioral phenotypes that can serve to promote compulsive drug use. These studies indicate that individuals with a history of chronic methamphetamine abuse often display several signs of corticostriatal dysfunction, including abnormal gray- and white-matter integrity, monoamine neurotransmitter system deficiencies, neuroinflammation, poor neuronal integrity, and aberrant patterns of brain connectivity and function, both when engaged in cognitive tasks and at rest. More importantly, many of these neural abnormalities were found to be linked with certain addiction-related phenotypes that may influence treatment response (e.g., poor self-control, cognitive inflexibility, maladaptive decision-making), raising the possibility that they may represent novel therapeutic targets.

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