Background: The majority of previous heroin cue-reactivity functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies focused on local function impairments, such as inhibitory control, decision-making and stress regulation. Our previous studies have demonstrated that these brain circuits also presented dysfunctional connectivity during the resting state. Yet few studies considered the relevance of resting state dysfunctional connectivity to task-related neural activity in the same chronic heroin user (CHU).
Methodology/principal findings: We employed the method of graph theory analysis, which detected the abnormality of brain regions and dysregulation of brain connections at rest between 16 male abstinent chronic heroin users (CHUs) and 16 non-drug users (NDUs). Using a cue-reactivity task, we assessed the relationship between drug-related cue-induced craving activity and the abnormal topological properties of the CHUs' resting networks. Comparing NDUs' brain activity to that of CHUs, the intensity of functional connectivity of the medial frontal gyrus (meFG) in patients' resting state networks was prominently greater and positively correlated with the same region's neural activity in the heroin-related task; decreased functional connectivity intensity of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in CHUs at rest was associated with more drug-related cue-induced craving activities.
Conclusions: These results may indicate that there exist two brain systems interacting simultaneously in the heroin-addicted brain with regards to a cue-reactivity task. The current study may shed further light on the neural architecture that supports craving responses in heroin dependence.