Pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder reported in association with dopamine agonists used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Although impulse control disorders are conceptualized as lying within the spectrum of addictions, little neurobiological evidence exists to support this belief. Functional imaging studies have consistently demonstrated abnormalities of dopaminergic function in patients with drug addictions, but to date no study has specifically evaluated dopaminergic function in Parkinson’s disease patients with impulse control disorders. We describe results of a [11C] raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) study comparing dopaminergic function during gambling in Parkinson’s disease patients, with and without pathological gambling, following dopamine agonists. Patients with pathological gambling demonstrated greater decreases in binding potential in the ventral striatum during gambling (13.9%) than control patients (8.1%), likely reflecting greater dopaminergic release. Ventral striatal bindings at baseline during control task were also lower in patients with pathological gambling. Although prior imaging studies suggest that abnormality in dopaminergic binding and dopamine release may be markers of vulnerability to addiction, this study presents the first evidence of these phenomena in pathological gambling. The emergence of pathological gambling in a number of Parkinson’s disease patients may provide a model into the pathophysiology of this disorder.
PMID: 19346328 CAMSID: cams2369
Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; impulse control disorders; pathological gambling; PET; functional imaging
While methamphetamine addiction has been associated with both impulsivity and striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor deficits, human studies have not directly linked the latter two entities. We therefore compared methamphetamine-dependent and healthy control subjects using the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (version 11, BIS-11) and positron emission tomography with [18F]fallypride to measure striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability. The methamphetamine-dependent subjects reported recent use of the drug 3.3 g per week, and a history of using methamphetamine, on average, for 12.5 years. They had higher scores than healthy control subjects on all BIS-11 impulsiveness subscales (p < 0.001). Volume-of-interest analysis found lower striatal D2/D3 receptor availability in methamphetamine-dependent than in healthy control subjects (p < 0.01) and a negative relationship between impulsiveness and striatal D2/D3 receptor availability in the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens that reached statistical significance in methamphetamine-dependent subjects. Combining data from both groups, voxelwise analysis indicated that impulsiveness was related to D2/D3 receptor availability in left caudate nucleus and right lateral putamen/claustrum (p < 0.05, determined by threshold-free cluster enhancement). In separate group analyses, correlations involving the head and body of the caudate and the putamen of methamphetamine-dependent subjects, and the lateral putamen/claustrum of control subjects were observed at a weaker threshold (p < 0.12 corrected). The findings suggest that low striatal D2/D3 receptor availability may mediate impulsive temperament and thereby influence addiction.
methamphetamine; impulsivity; addiction; dopamine; receptor; striatum
Pathological gambling (PG) is a form of behavioural addiction that has been associated with elevated impulsivity and also cognitive distortions in the processing of chance, probability and skill. We sought to assess the relationship between the level of cognitive distortions and state and trait measures of impulsivity in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers.
Thirty pathological gamblers attending the National Problem Gambling Clinic, the first National Health Service clinic for gambling problems in the UK, were compared with 30 healthy controls in a case-control design. Cognitive distortions were assessed using the Gambling-Related Cognitions Scale (GRCS). Trait impulsivity was assessed using the UPPS-P, which includes scales of urgency, the tendency to be impulsive in positive or negative mood states. Delay discounting rates were taken as a state measure of impulsive choice.
Pathological gamblers had elevated impulsivity on several UPPS-P subscales but effect sizes were largest (Cohen's d>1.4) for positive and negative urgency. The pathological gamblers also displayed higher levels of gambling distortions, and elevated preference for immediate rewards, compared to controls. Within the pathological gamblers, there was a strong relationship between the preference for immediate rewards and the level of cognitive distortions (R2=0.41).
Impulsive choice in the gamblers was correlated with the level of gambling distortions, and we hypothesize that an impulsive decision-making style may increase the acceptance of erroneous beliefs during gambling play.
Behavioural addiction; decision making; delay discounting; problem gambling; risk taking
The discounting of delayed rewards, also known as temporal or delay discounting, is intrinsic to everyday decisions and can be impaired in pathological states such as addiction disorders. Preclinical and human studies suggest a role for dopaminergic function in temporal discounting but this relationship has not yet been verified using molecular imaging of the living human brain. Here, we evaluated dopaminergic function in temporal discounting using positron emission tomography (PET) with two different dopaminergic ligands assessing three populations in whom temporal discounting has been shown to be impaired. First, we show using [11C]raclopride PET that in pathological gamblers, greater temporal discounting correlates with decreased ventral striatal binding potential, convergent with translational findings of lower nucleus accumbens D2/D3 receptor density in high-impulsive rodents. Temporal discounting also correlates with lower ventral striatal dopamine release in response to high-reward magnitude suggesting that dopamine-mediated devaluation of larger delayed rewards may drive choice preferences. Second, we show using [18F]fluorodopa PET that in Parkinson's disease, temporal discounting correlates with greater left caudate dopaminergic terminal function. Finally, in subjects with Parkinson's disease and dopamine medication-induced behavioral addictions, temporal discounting is further correlated with greater dopaminergic terminal function in the anterior putamen. These findings provide insights into the relationship between striatal dopamine function and temporal discounting, and its potential role in pathological disorders and mechanisms underlying treatment interventions.
Writer’s cramp is a task-specific focal hand dystonia characterized by involuntary excessive muscle contractions during writing. Although abnormal striatal dopamine receptor binding has been implicated in the pathophysiology of writer’s cramp and other primary dystonias, endogenous dopamine release during task performance has not been previously investigated in writer’s cramp. Using positron emission tomography imaging with the D2/D3 antagonist 11C-raclopride, we analysed striatal D2/D3 availability at rest and endogenous dopamine release during sequential finger tapping and speech production tasks in 15 patients with writer’s cramp and 15 matched healthy control subjects. Compared with control subjects, patients had reduced 11C-raclopride binding to D2/D3 receptors at rest in the bilateral striatum, consistent with findings in previous studies. During the tapping task, patients had decreased dopamine release in the left striatum as assessed by reduced change in 11C-raclopride binding compared with control subjects. One cluster of reduced dopamine release in the left putamen during tapping overlapped with a region of reduced 11C-raclopride binding to D2/D3 receptors at rest. During the sentence production task, patients showed increased dopamine release in the left striatum. No overlap between altered dopamine release during speech production and reduced 11C-raclopride binding to D2/D3 receptors at rest was seen. Striatal regions where D2/D3 availability at rest positively correlated with disease duration were lateral and non-overlapping with striatal regions showing reduced D2/D3 receptor availability, except for a cluster in the left nucleus accumbens, which showed a negative correlation with disease duration and overlapped with striatal regions showing reduced D2/D3 availability. Our findings suggest that patients with writer’s cramp may have divergent responses in striatal dopamine release during an asymptomatic motor task involving the dystonic hand and an unrelated asymptomatic task, sentence production. Our voxel-based results also suggest that writer’s cramp may be associated with reduced striatal dopamine release occuring in the setting of reduced D2/D3 receptor availability and raise the possibility that basal ganglia circuits associated with premotor cortices and those associated with primary motor cortex are differentially affected in primary focal dystonias.
dystonia; dopamine; PET; raclopride; striatum
Impulse control disorders such as pathological gambling (PG) are a serious and common adverse effect of dopamine (DA) replacement medication in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Patients with PG have increased impulsivity and abnormalities in striatal DA, in common with behavioural and substance addictions in the non-PD population. To date, no studies have investigated the role of extrastriatal dopaminergic abnormalities in PD patients with PG. We used the PET radiotracer, [11C] FLB-457, with high-affinity for extrastriatal DA D2/3 receptors. 14 PD patients on DA agonists were imaged while they performed a gambling task involving real monetary reward and a control task. Trait impulsivity was measured with the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS). Seven of the patients had a history of PG that developed subsequent to DA agonist medication. Change in [11C] FLB-457 binding potential (BP) during gambling was reduced in PD with PG patients in the midbrain, where D2/D3 receptors are dominated by autoreceptors. The degree of change in [11C] FLB-457 binding in this region correlated with impulsivity. In the cortex, [11C] FLB-457 BP was significantly greater in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in PD patients with PG during the control task, and binding in this region was also correlated with impulsivity. Our findings provide the first evidence that PD patients with PG have dysfunctional activation of DA autoreceptors in the midbrain and low DA tone in the ACC. Thus, altered striatal and cortical DA homeostasis may incur vulnerability for the development of PG in PD, linked with the impulsive personality trait.
PMID: 22766031 CAMSID: cams2373
Parkinson’s disease; Dopamine agonists; Pathological gambling; Impulsivity
Dopaminergic medication for motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD) recently has been linked with impulse control disorders, including pathological gambling (PG), which affects up to 8% of patients. PG often is considered a behavioral addiction associated with disinhibition, risky decision-making, and altered striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission. Using [11C]raclopride with positron emission tomography, we assessed dopaminergic neurotransmission during Iowa Gambling Task performance. Here we present data from a single patient with PD and concomitant PG. We noted a marked decrease in [11C]raclopride binding in the left ventral striatum upon gambling, indicating a gambling-induced dopamine release. The results imply that PG in PD is associated with a high dose of dopaminergic medication, pronounced motor symptomatology, young age at disease onset, high propensity for sensation seeking, and risky decision-making. Overall, the findings are consistent with the hypothesis of medication-related PG in PD and underscore the importance of taking clinical variables, such as age and personality, into account when patients with PD are medicated, to reduce the risk of PG.
Parkinson’s disease; pathological gambling; impulse control disorders; decision-making; dopamine
Low striatal dopamine 2/3 receptor (D2/3) availability and low ventrostriatal (VST) dopamine (DA) release have been observed in alcoholism, cocaine and heroin dependence. Less is known about the dopaminergic system in cannabis dependence. We assessed D2/3 availability and DA release in abstinent cannabis users compared to controls and explored relationships to parameters of cannabis use history, using [11C]raclopride Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and an amphetamine challenge paradigm.
16 recently abstinent, medically and psychiatrically healthy cannabis-using participants (CD, 27.3 ± 6.1 years, 1 female, 15 males) and 16 matched controls (HC, 28.1 ± 6.7 years, 2 females, 14 males) completed two PET scans, before and after injection of i.v. d-amphetamine (0.3 mg/kg). Percent change in [11C]raclopride binding after amphetamine (ΔBPND) in subregions of the striatum was compared between groups. Correlations with clinical parameters were examined.
Cannabis dependent participants had an average consumption of 517± 465 estimated puffs per month, indicating overall mild to moderate cannabis dependence. Neither baseline BPND nor ΔBPND differed from controls in any ROI, including VST. In CD, earlier age of onset of use correlated with lower [ΔBPND] in the associative striatum (AST) when controlling for current age.
Unlike other addictions, cannabis dependence of mild to moderate severity is not associated with striatal DA alterations. However, earlier use, or longer duration of use, is related to lower DA release in the AST. These observations suggest a more harmful effect of use during adolescence; more research is needed to distinguish effects of chronicity versus onset.
cannabis; dopamine; PET imaging; addiction; amphetamine challenge; adolescent onset
Pathological gambling, alongside addictive and antisocial disorders, forms part of a broad psychopathological spectrum of externalizing disorders, which share an underlying genetic vulnerability. The shared externalizing propensity is a highly heritable, continuously varying trait. Disinhibitory personality traits such as impulsivity and novelty seeking (NS) function as indicators of this broad shared externalizing tendency, which may reflect, at the neurobiological level, variation in the reactivity of dopaminergic (DAergic) brain reward systems centered on the ventral striatum (VS). Here, we examined whether individual differences in ventral striatal dopamine (DA) synthesis capacity were associated with individual variation in disinhibitory personality traits. Twelve healthy male volunteers underwent 6-[18F]Fluoro-L-DOPA (FDOPA) positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to measure striatal DA synthesis capacity, and completed a measure of disinhibited personality (NS). We found that levels of ventral, but not dorsal, striatal DA synthesis capacity were significantly correlated with inter-individual variation in disinhibitory personality traits, particularly a propensity for financial extravagance and irresponsibility. Our results are consistent with preclinical models of behavioral disinhibition and addiction proneness, and provide novel insights into the neurobiology of personality based vulnerability to pathological gambling and other externalizing disorders.
addiction; dopamine; externalizing; impulsivity; positron emission tomography; pathological gambling; reward; ventral striatum
Dysregulation of mesolimbic dopamine transmission is implicated in a number of psychiatric illnesses characterised by disruption of reward processing and goal-directed behaviour, including schizophrenia, drug addiction and impulse control disorders associated with chronic use of dopamine agonists. Amphetamine sensitization (AS) has been proposed to model the development of this aberrant dopamine signalling and the subsequent dysregulation of incentive motivational processes. However, in humans the effects of AS on the dopamine-sensitive neural circuitry associated with reward processing remains unclear. Here we describe the effects of acute amphetamine administration, following a sensitising dosage regime, on blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in dopaminoceptive brain regions during a rewarded gambling task performed by healthy volunteers. Using a randomised, double-blind, parallel-groups design, we found clear evidence for sensitization to the subjective effects of the drug, while rewarded reaction times were unchanged. Repeated amphetamine exposure was associated with reduced dorsal striatal BOLD signal during decision making, but enhanced ventromedial caudate activity during reward anticipation. The amygdala BOLD response to reward outcomes was blunted following repeated amphetamine exposure. Positive correlations between subjective sensitization and changes in anticipation- and outcome-related BOLD signal were seen for the caudate nucleus and amygdala, respectively. These data show for the first time in humans that AS changes the functional impact of acute stimulant exposure on the processing of reward-related information within dopaminoceptive regions. Our findings accord with pathophysiological models which implicate aberrant dopaminergic modulation of striatal and amygdala activity in psychosis and drug-related compulsive disorders.
Abnormalities of motivation and behavior in the context of reward are a fundamental component of addiction and mood disorders. Here we test the effect of a functional missense mutation in the dopamine 3 receptor (DRD3) gene (ser9gly, rs6280) on reward-associated dopamine (DA) release in the striatum. Twenty-six healthy controls (HCs) and 10 unmedicated subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD) completed two positron emission tomography (PET) scans with [11C]raclopride using the bolus plus constant infusion method. On one occasion subjects completed a sensorimotor task (control condition) and on another occasion subjects completed a gambling task (reward condition). A linear regression analysis controlling for age, sex, diagnosis, and self-reported anhedonia indicated that during receipt of unpredictable monetary reward the glycine allele was associated with a greater reduction in D2/3 receptor binding (i.e., increased reward-related DA release) in the middle (anterior) caudate (p<0.01) and the ventral striatum (p<0.05). The possible functional effect of the ser9gly polymorphism on DA release is consistent with previous work demonstrating that the glycine allele yields D3 autoreceptors that have a higher affinity for DA and display more robust intracellular signaling. Preclinical evidence indicates that chronic stress and aversive stimulation induce activation of the DA system, raising the possibility that the glycine allele, by virtue of its facilitatory effect on striatal DA release, increases susceptibility to hyperdopaminergic responses that have previously been associated with stress, addiction, and psychosis.
Dopamine plays a role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and addiction. Imaging studies have indicated that striatal dopamine release is increased in schizophrenia, predominantly in the precommissural caudate (preDCA), and blunted in addiction, mostly in the ventral striatum (VST). Therefore we aimed to measure striatal dopamine release in patients with comorbid schizophrenia and substance dependence. We used [11C]raclopride PET and an amphetamine challenge to measure baseline dopamine D2-receptor availability (BPND) and its percent change post-amphetamine (∆BPND, to index amphetamine-induced dopamine release) in striatal subregions in 11 unmedicated, drug-free patients with both schizophrenia and substance dependence and 15 healthy controls. There were no significant group differences in baseline BPND. Linear mixed modeling using ∆BPND as the dependent variable and striatal ROI as a repeated measure indicated a significant main effect of diagnosis, F(1, 24)=8.38, p=.008, with significantly smaller ∆BPND in patients in all striatal subregions (all ps≤.04) except VST. Among patients, change in positive symptoms after amphetamine was significantly associated with ∆BPND in the preDCA (rs=.69, p=.03) and VST (rs=.64, p=.05). In conclusion, patients with comorbid schizophrenia and substance dependence showed significant blunting of striatal dopamine release, in contrast to what has been found in schizophrenia without substance dependence. Despite this blunting, dopamine release was associated with the transient amphetamine-induced positive-symptom change, as observed in schizophrenia. This is the first description of a group of patients with schizophrenia who display low presynaptic dopamine release, yet show a psychotic reaction to increases in D2 stimulation, suggesting abnormal post-synaptic D2 function.
PET; dopamine; schizophrenia; striatal; alcohol; drug dependence
Impulse control disorders are commonly associated with dopaminergic therapy in Parkinson's disease (PD). PD patients with impulse control disorders demonstrate enhanced dopamine release to conditioned cues and a gambling task on [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and enhanced ventral striatal activity to reward on functional MRI. We compared PD patients with impulse control disorders and age-matched and gender-matched controls without impulse control disorders using [123I]FP-CIT (2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl)tropane) single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), to assess striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) density.
The [123I]FP-CIT binding data in the striatum were compared between 15 PD patients with and 15 without impulse control disorders using independent t tests.
Those with impulse control disorders showed significantly lower DAT binding in the right striatum with a trend in the left (right: F(1,24)=5.93, p=0.02; left: F(1,24)=3.75, p=0.07) compared to controls.
Our findings suggest that greater dopaminergic striatal activity in PD patients with impulse control disorders may be partly related to decreased uptake and clearance of dopamine from the synaptic cleft. Whether these findings are related to state or trait effects is not known. These findings dovetail with reports of lower DAT levels secondary to the effects of methamphetamine and alcohol. Although any regulation of DAT by antiparkinsonian medication appears to be modest, PD patients with impulse control disorders may be differentially sensitive to regulatory mechanisms of DAT expression by dopaminergic medications.
BEHAVIOURAL DISORDER; FUNCTIONAL IMAGING; NEUROPSYCHIATRY; SPECT; MOVEMENT DISORDERS
Impulse control disorders (ICDs), including disordered gambling, can occur in a significant number of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) receiving dopaminergic therapy. The neurobiology underlying susceptibility to such problems is unclear, but risk likely results from an interaction between dopaminergic medication and a pre-existing trait vulnerability. Impulse control and addictive disorders form part of a broader psychopathological spectrum of disorders, which share a common underlying genetic vulnerability, referred to as externalizing. The broad externalizing risk factor is a continuously varying trait reflecting vulnerability to various impulse control problems, manifested at the overt level by disinhibitory symptoms and at the personality level by antecedent traits such as impulsivity and novelty/sensation seeking. Trait “disinhibition” is thus a core endophenotype of ICDs, and a key target for neurobiological investigation. The ventral striatal dopamine system has been hypothesized to underlie individual variation in behavioral disinhibition. Here, we examined whether individual differences in ventral striatal dopamine synthesis capacity predicted individual variation in disinhibitory temperament traits in individuals with PD. Eighteen early-stage male PD patients underwent 6-[18F]Fluoro-l-DOPA (FDOPA) positron emission tomography scanning to measure striatal dopamine synthesis capacity, and completed a measure of disinhibited personality. Consistent with our predictions, we found that levels of ventral, but not dorsal, striatal dopamine synthesis capacity predicted disinhibited personality, particularly a propensity for financial extravagance. Our results are consistent with recent preclinical models of vulnerability to behavioral disinhibition and addiction proneness, and provide novel insights into the neurobiology of potential vulnerability to impulse control problems in PD and other disorders.
dopa decarboxylase; dopamine; disordered gambling; externalizing; impulse control disorders; impulsivity; reward; ventral striatum
Low dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) levels in the striatum are consistently reported in cocaine abusers; inter-individual variations in the degree of the decrease suggest a modulating effect of genetic makeup on vulnerability to addiction. The PER2 (Period 2) gene belongs to the clock genes family of circadian regulators; circadian oscillations of PER2 expression in the striatum was modulated by dopamine through D2Rs. Aberrant periodicity of PER2 contributes to the incidence and severity of various brain disorders, including drug addiction. Here we report a newly identified variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism in the human PER2 gene (VNTR in the third intron). We found significant differences in the VNTR alleles prevalence across ethnic groups so that the major allele (4 repeats (4R)) is over-represented in non-African population (4R homozygosity is 88%), but not in African Americans (homozygosity 51%). We also detected a biased PER2 genotype distribution among healthy controls and cocaine-addicted individuals. In African Americans, the proportion of 4R/three repeat (3R) carriers in healthy controls is much lower than that in cocaine abusers (23% vs 39%, P=0.004), whereas among non-Africans most 3R/4R heterozygotes are healthy controls (10.5% vs 2.5%, P=0.04). Analysis of striatal D2R availability measured with positron emission tomography and [11C]raclopride revealed higher levels of D2R in carriers of 4R/4R genotype (P<0.01). Taken together, these results provide preliminary evidence for the role of the PER2 gene in regulating striatal D2R availability in the human brain and in vulnerability for cocaine addiction.
cocaine addiction; dopaminergic signaling; human brain; human brain imaging; Period 2 gene
Positron Emission tomography (PET) imaging studies have shown that addiction to a number of substances of abuse is associated with a decrease in dopamine D2/3 receptor binding and decreased pre-synaptic dopamine release in the striatum. Some studies have also shown that these reductions are associated with the severity of addiction. For example, in cocaine dependence, low dopamine release is associated with the choice to self-administer cocaine. The goal of the present study was to investigate these parameters of striatal dopamine transmission in heroin dependence and their association with drug seeking behavior.
Heroin dependent and healthy control subjects were scanned with [11C]raclopride before and after stimulant administration (methylphenidate) to measure striatal D2/3 receptor binding and pre-synaptic dopamine release. Following the PET scans, the heroin dependent subjects performed heroin self-administration sessions.
Both striatal D2/3 receptor binding and dopamine release were reduced in the heroin dependent subjects compared to healthy controls. However, neither PET measure of dopamine transmission predicted the choice to self-administer heroin.
These findings show that heroin addiction, like addiction to other drugs of abuse, is associated with low D2/3 receptor binding and low pre-synaptic dopamine. However, neither of these outcome measures were associated with the choice to self-administer heroin.
PET imaging; dopamine; dopamine receptors; addiction; heroin dependence; drug self-administration
Dopamine D2 receptor and dopamine transporter availability in the striatum have each been reported abnormal in generalized social anxiety disorder (GSAD) in studies using single photon computerized tomography (SPECT). D2 receptors and dopamine transporters have not previously been studied within the same GSAD subjects, however, and prior GSAD studies have not assessed dopamine release or subdivided striatum into functional subregions.
Unmedicated adults with GSAD (N=17) and matched healthy comparison subjects (HC, N=13) participated in this study. Of these, 15 GSAD and 13 HC subjects completed baseline assessment of D2 receptor availability using positron emission tomography (PET) with the radiotracer [11C] raclopride. Twelve GSAD and 13 HC subjects completed a repeat scan after intravenous administration of D-amphetamine, to study dopamine release. Twelve of the GSAD subjects and 10 of the HC subjects also completed SPECT with the radiotracer [123I] methyl 3ß-(4-iodophenyl) tropane-2ß-carboxylate ([123I] ß-CIT) to assess dopamine transporter availability.
GSAD and HC groups did not differ significantly in striatal dopamine transporter availability, overall striatal or striatal subregion D2 receptor availability at baseline, or change in D2 receptor availability after D-amphetamine. Receptor availability and change after D-amphetamine were not significantly associated with severity of social anxiety or trait detachment.
These findings do not replicate previous findings of altered striatal dopamine transporter and D2 receptor availability in GSAD subjects assessed with SPECT. The differences from results of prior studies may be due to differences in imaging methods or characteristics of samples.
social phobia; raclopride; imaging; SPECT; PET
Through the combined use of 18F-fallypride positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging this study examined the neural mechanisms underlying the attentional deficits associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and their potential reversal with a single therapeutic dose of methylphenidate. Sixteen adult patients with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and 16 matched healthy control subjects were positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scanned and tested on a computerized sustained attention task after oral methylphenidate (0.5 mg/kg) and placebo administration in a within-subject, double-blind, cross-over design. Although patients with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder as a group showed significant attentional deficits and reduced grey matter volume in fronto-striato-cerebellar and limbic networks, they had equivalent D2/D3 receptor availability and equivalent increases in endogenous dopamine after methylphenidate treatment to that observed in healthy control subjects. However, poor attentional performers drawn from both the attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and the control groups had significantly reduced left caudate dopamine activity. Methylphenidate significantly increased dopamine levels in all nigro-striatal regions, thereby normalizing dopamine levels in the left caudate in low performers. Behaviourally, methylphenidate improved sustained attention in a baseline performance-dependent manner, irrespective of diagnosis. This finding was accompanied by an equally performance-dependent effect of the drug on dopamine release in the midbrain, whereby low performers showed reduced dopamine release in this region. Collectively, these findings support a dimensional model of attentional deficits and underlying nigro-striatal dopaminergic mechanisms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder that extends into the healthy population. Moreover, they confer midbrain dopamine autoreceptors a hitherto neglected role in the therapeutic effects of oral methylphenidate in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The absence of significant case–control differences in D2/D3 receptor availability (despite the observed relationships between dopamine activity and attention) suggests that dopamine dysregulation per se is unlikely to be the primary cause underlying attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder pathology in adults. This conclusion is reinforced by evidence of neuroanatomical changes in the same set of patients with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; 18F-fallypride PET; dopamine; methylphenidate; sustained attention
Impulsive behavior is thought to reflect a trait-like characteristic that can have broad consequences for an individual’s success and well-being, but its neurobiological basis remains elusive. Although striatal dopamine D2-like receptors have been linked with impulsive behavior and behavioral inhibition in rodents, a role for D2-like receptor function in frontostriatal circuits mediating inhibitory control in humans has not been shown. We investigated this role in a study of healthy research participants who underwent positron emission tomography with the D2/D3 dopamine-receptor ligand [18F]fallypride, and blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (BOLD fMRI) while they performed the Stop-signal Task, a test of response inhibition. Striatal dopamine D2/D3-receptor availability was negatively correlated with speed of response inhibition (stop-signal reaction time), and positively correlated with inhibition-related fMRI activation in frontostriatal neural circuitry. Correlations involving D2/D3 receptor availability were strongest in the dorsal regions (caudate and putamen) of the striatum, consistent with findings of animal studies relating dopamine receptors and response inhibition. The results suggest that striatal D2-like receptor function in humans plays a major role in the neural circuitry that mediates behavioral control, an ability that is essential for adaptive responding and is compromised in a variety of common neuropsychiatric disorders.
Response Inhibition; fMRI; Stop-signal Task; Dopamine; PET
Impulse control disorders are common in Parkinson's; disease, occurring in 13.6% of patients. Using a pharmacological manipulation and a novel risk taking task while performing functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the relationship between dopamine agonists and risk taking in patients with Parkinson's; disease with and without impulse control disorders. During functional magnetic resonance imaging, subjects chose between two choices of equal expected value: a ‘Sure’ choice and a ‘Gamble’ choice of moderate risk. To commence each trial, in the ‘Gain’ condition, individuals started at $0 and in the ‘Loss’ condition individuals started at −$50 below the ‘Sure’ amount. The difference between the maximum and minimum outcomes from each gamble (i.e. range) was used as an index of risk (‘Gamble Risk’). Sixteen healthy volunteers were behaviourally tested. Fourteen impulse control disorder (problem gambling or compulsive shopping) and 14 matched Parkinson's; disease controls were tested ON and OFF dopamine agonists. Patients with impulse control disorder made more risky choices in the ‘Gain’ relative to the ‘Loss’ condition along with decreased orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate activity, with the opposite observed in Parkinson's; disease controls. In patients with impulse control disorder, dopamine agonists were associated with enhanced sensitivity to risk along with decreased ventral striatal activity again with the opposite in Parkinson's; disease controls. Patients with impulse control disorder appear to have a bias towards risky choices independent of the effect of loss aversion. Dopamine agonists enhance sensitivity to risk in patients with impulse control disorder possibly by impairing risk evaluation in the striatum. Our results provide a potential explanation of why dopamine agonists may lead to an unconscious bias towards risk in susceptible individuals.
Parkinson's; disease; dopamine; gambling; decision making; risk
Impulsivity is a central feature of drug addiction and may arise as a result of impaired inhibitory control. The extent to which inhibitory deficits arise as a consequence of drug exposure or relate to pre-existing addiction vulnerability is unknown.
Materials and methods
This study compared measures of impulsivity in outpatients with alcohol dependence (n = 23) and problem gambling (n = 21), a putative behavioural addiction where direct effects of drug exposure may be minimal. Healthy controls (n = 27) were also tested, in a cross-sectional design. Subjects completed the stop-signal test as a neurocognitive probe of response inhibition, alongside self-report ratings of impulsivity, adult ADHD and OCD.
On the stop-signal test, Go reaction time and stop-signal reaction time were significantly slower in the alcohol-dependent group, compared with healthy controls. Healthy controls slowed their responding after successful and failed stop trials. Slowing after failed stop trials was significantly attenuated in the alcohol-dependent subjects. Go reaction time and post-error slowing were correlated with chronicity and severity, respectively, in the alcohol-dependent subjects. Problem gamblers did not differ significantly from controls on the stop-signal test, despite trait elevations in impulsivity ratings.
Inhibitory control is impaired in alcohol dependence but occurs in the context of psychomotor slowing. In addition, alcohol-dependent individuals failed to show behavioral adjustment following failed stops. These deficits may represent direct effects of chronic alcohol administration on fronto-striatal circuitry.
Compulsivity; Executive function; Post-error adjustment; Pathological gambling; Alcoholism
Although the incidence of cannabis abuse/dependence in Americans is rising, the neurobiology of cannabis addiction is not well understood. Imaging studies have demonstrated deficits in striatal D2/D3 receptor availability in several substance-dependent populations. However, this has not been studied in currently-using chronic cannabis users.
The purpose of this study was to compare striatal D2/D3 receptor availability between currently-using chronic cannabis users and healthy controls.
Eighteen right-handed males age 18–34 were studied. Ten subjects were chronic cannabis users; eight were demographically matched controls. Subjects underwent a [11C] raclopride (RAC) PET scan. Striatal RAC binding potential (BPND) was calculated on a voxel-wise basis. Prior to scanning, urine samples were obtained from cannabis users for quantification of urine Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and THC metabolites (11-nor-Δ-9-THC-9-carboxylic acid; THC-COOH and 11-hydroxy-THC;OH-THC).
There were no differences in D2/D3 receptor availability between cannabis users and controls. Voxel-wise analyses revealed that RAC BPND values were negatively associated with both urine levels of cannabis metabolites and self-report of recent cannabis consumption.
In this sample, current cannabis use was not associated with deficits in striatal D2/D3 receptor availability. There was an inverse relationship between chronic cannabis use and striatal RAC BPND. Additional studies are needed to identify the neurochemical consequences of chronic cannabis use on the dopamine system.
dopamine; raclopride; positron emission tomography; cannabis; marijuana; D2 receptor
Failures in cortical control of fronto-striatal neural circuits may underpin impulsive and compulsive acts. In this narrative review, we explore these behaviors from the perspective of neural processes and consider how these behaviors and neural processes contribute to mental disorders such as obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), obsessive–compulsive personality disorder, and impulse-control disorders such as trichotillomania and pathological gambling. We present findings from a broad range of data, comprising translational and human endophenotypes research and clinical treatment trials, focussing on the parallel, functionally segregated, cortico-striatal neural projections, from orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) to medial striatum (caudate nucleus), proposed to drive compulsive activity, and from the anterior cingulate/ventromedial prefrontal cortex to the ventral striatum (nucleus accumbens shell), proposed to drive impulsive activity, and the interaction between them. We suggest that impulsivity and compulsivity each seem to be multidimensional. Impulsive or compulsive behaviors are mediated by overlapping as well as distinct neural substrates. Trichotillomania may stand apart as a disorder of motor-impulse control, whereas pathological gambling involves abnormal ventral reward circuitry that identifies it more closely with substance addiction. OCD shows motor impulsivity and compulsivity, probably mediated through disruption of OFC-caudate circuitry, as well as other frontal, cingulate, and parietal connections. Serotonin and dopamine interact across these circuits to modulate aspects of both impulsive and compulsive responding and as yet unidentified brain-based systems may also have important functions. Targeted application of neurocognitive tasks, receptor-specific neurochemical probes, and brain systems neuroimaging techniques have potential for future research in this field.
impulsive; compulsive; endophenotypes; serotonin; dopamine; Cognition; Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Animal models; Biological Psychiatry; OCD; impulsivity; compulsivity; translational
Spasmodic dysphonia is a primary focal dystonia characterized by involuntary spasms in the laryngeal muscles during speech production. The pathophysiology of spasmodic dysphonia is thought to involve structural and functional abnormalities in the basal ganglia–thalamo-cortical circuitry; however, neurochemical correlates underpinning these abnormalities as well as their relations to spasmodic dysphonia symptoms remain unknown. We used positron emission tomography with the radioligand [11C]raclopride (RAC) to study striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission at the resting state and during production of symptomatic sentences and asymptomatic finger tapping in spasmodic dysphonia patients. We found that patients, compared to healthy controls, had bilaterally decreased RAC binding potential (BP) to striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptors on average by 29.2%, which was associated with decreased RAC displacement (RAC ΔBP) in the left striatum during symptomatic speaking (group average difference 10.2%), but increased RAC ΔBP in the bilateral striatum during asymptomatic tapping (group average difference 10.1%). Patients with more severe voice symptoms and subclinically longer reaction time to initiate the tapping sequence had greater RAC ΔBP measures, while longer duration of spasmodic dysphonia was associated with a decrease in task-induced RAC ΔBP. Decreased dopaminergic transmission during symptomatic speech production may represent a disorder-specific pathophysiological trait involved in symptom generation, whereas increased dopaminergic function during unaffected task performance may be explained by a compensatory adaptation of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system possibly due to decreased striatal D2/D3 receptor availability. These changes can be linked to the clinical and subclinical features of spasmodic dysphonia and may represent the neurochemical basis of basal ganglia alterations in this disorder.
Dopamine is involved in drug reinforcement but its role in addiction is less clear. Here we describe PET imaging studies that investigate dopamine’s involvement in drug abuse in the human brain. In humans the reinforcing effects of drugs are associated with large and fast increases in extracellular dopamine, which mimic those induced by physiological dopamine cell firing but are more intense and protracted. Since dopamine cells fire in response to salient stimuli, supraphysiological activation by drugs is experienced as highly salient (driving attention, arousal, conditioned learning and motivation) and with repeated drug use may raise the thresholds required for dopamine cell activation and signaling. Indeed, imaging studies show that drug abusers have marked decreases in dopamine D2 receptors and in dopamine release. This decrease in dopamine function is associated with reduced regional activity in orbitofrontal cortex (involved in salience attribution; its disruption results in compulsive behaviors), cingulate gyrus (involved in inhibitory control; its disruption results in impulsivity) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (involved in executive function; its disruption results in impaired regulation of intentional actions). In parallel, conditioning triggered by drugs leads to enhanced dopamine signaling when exposed to conditioned cues, which then drives the motivation to procure the drug in part by activation of prefrontal and striatal regions. These findings implicate deficits in dopamine activity—inked with prefrontal and striatal deregulation—in the loss of control and compulsive drug intake that results when the addicted person takes the drugs or is exposed to conditioned cues. The decreased dopamine function in addicted individuals also reduces their sensitivity to natural reinforcers. Therapeutic interventions aimed at restoring brain dopaminergic tone and activity of cortical projection regions could improve prefrontal function, enhance inhibitory control and interfere with impulsivity and compulsive drug administration while helping to motivate the addicted person to engage in non-drug related behaviors.
Positron emission tomography; Orbitofrontal cortex; Cingulate gyrus; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Dopamine D2 receptors; Reward; Predisposition; Salience; Raclopride; Fluoro-deoxyglucose