Compromised sensitivity to monetary reward in current cocaine users: An ERP study

Rita Z. Goldstein, Muhammad A. Parvaz, Thomas Maloney, Nelly Alia-Klein, Patricia A. Woicik, Frank Telang, Gene Jack Wang, Nora D. Volkow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


We studied modulation of the P300 by monetary reward expected to be received on a sustained attention task in 18 individuals with current cocaine use disorders (CUD) and 18 control subjects. Results in the controls revealed sensitivity to money as measured with P300 amplitude and speed of behavioral response and their intercorrelations. In contrast, despite generally faster P300 waveforms and higher self-reported interest in the task, individuals with CUD did not display these responses to money versus nonreward; at the behavioral level, this impairment correlated with frequency of recent cocaine use. These preliminary results suggest a compromised sensitivity to a secondary reinforcer in CUD. This deficit, which needs to be replicated in larger samples of people with currently active versus abstaining CUD, may underlie the compromised ability to advantageously modify behavior in response to changing inner motivations and environmental contingencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-713
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cocaine addiction
  • Current drug abuse
  • Early withdrawal
  • Inhibitory control
  • Monetary reward
  • P300
  • Reward processing
  • Secondary reinforcement


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