Disrupted functional connectivity with dopaminergic midbrain in cocaine abusers

Dardo Tomasi, Nora D. Volkow, Ruiliang Wang, Jean H. Carrillo, Thomas Maloney, Nelly Alia-Klein, Patricia A. Woicik, Frank Telang, Rita Z. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Background:Chronic cocaine use is associated with disrupted dopaminergic neurotransmission but how this disruption affects overall brain function (other than reward/motivation) is yet to be fully investigated. Here we test the hypothesis that cocaine addicted subjects will have disrupted functional connectivity between the midbrain (where dopamine neurons are located) and cortical and subcortical brain regions during the performance of a sustained attention task. Methodology/Principal Findings: We measured brain activation and functional connectivity with fMRI in 20 cocaine abusers and 20 matched controls. When compared to controls, cocaine abusers had lower positive functional connectivity of midbrain with thalamus, cerebellum, and rostral cingulate, and this was associated with decreased activation in thalamus and cerebellum and enhanced deactivation in rostral cingulate. Conclusions/Significance:These findings suggest that decreased functional connectivity of the midbrain interferes with the activation and deactivation signals associated with sustained attention in cocaine addicts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10815
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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