Background: Impulsivity is thought to play a key role in cocaine addiction onset and progression; therefore, we hypothesized that different facets of impulsive personality may be significantly associated with brain structural abnormalities in cocaine-dependent individuals.
Methods: Thirty-eight cocaine-dependent individuals and 38 non-drug using controls completed the UPPS-P scale (measuring five different facets of impulsivity: sensation seeking, lack of premeditation, lack of perseverance, and positive and negative urgency) and were scanned on a 3T MRI scanner. We used whole-brain voxel-based morphometry analyses (VBM) to detect differences in gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) volumes between cocaine users and controls, and to measure differences in the way that impulsivity relates to GM and WM volumes in cocaine users vs. controls.
Results: Cocaine-dependent individuals had lower GM volumes in a number of sections of the orbitofrontal cortex, right inferior frontal gyrus, right insula, left amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus, temporal gyrus, and bilateral caudate. They also had lower WM volumes in the left inferior and medial frontal gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, right anterior cingulate cortex, insula and caudate. There was a positive correlation between trait impulsivity and GM volume in the left inferior/middle frontal gyrus of cocaine-dependent individuals, a pattern directly opposed to the association in controls. Conversely, in cocaine users lack of premeditation was negatively correlated with GM volume in the insula and the putamen.
Conclusions: Trait impulsivity may influence cocaine dependence by impacting its neurobiological underpinnings in frontostriatal systems.
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