Anticipation of monetary reward in amygdala, insula, caudate are predictors of pleasure sensitivity to d-Amphetamine administration

Scott A Langenecker, Leah R Kling, Natania A Crane, Stephanie M Gorka, Robin Nusslock, Katherine S F Damme, Jessica Weafer, Harriet de Wit, K Luan Phan
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2020 January 1, 206: 107725

BACKGROUND: Drug addiction and dependence continue as an unresolved source of morbidity and mortality. Two approaches to identifying risk for abuse and addiction are psychopharmacological challenge studies and neuroimaging experiments. The present study combined these two approaches by examining associations between self-reported euphoria or liking after a dose of d-amphetamine and neural-based responses to anticipation of a monetary reward.

METHODS: Healthy young adults (N = 73) aged 19 and 26, without any history of alcohol/substance dependence completed four laboratory sessions in which they received oral d-amphetamine (20 mg) or placebo, and completed drug effect questionnaires. On a separate session they underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan while they completed a monetary incentive delay task. During the task, we recorded neural signal related to anticipation of winning $5 or $1.50 compared to winning no money (WinMoney-WinZero), in reward related regions.

RESULTS: Liking of amphetamine during the drug sessions was related to differences in activation during the WinMoney-WinZero conditions - in the amygdala (positive), insula (negative) and caudate (negative). In posthoc analyses, liking of amphetamine was also positively correlated with activation of the amygdala during anticipation of large rewards and negatively related to activation of the left insula to both small and large anticipated rewards.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that individual differences in key regions of the reward network are related to rewarding subjective effects of a stimulant drug. To further clarify these relationships, future pharmacofMRI studies could probe the influence of amphetamine at the neural level during reward anticipation.

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