Brain default-mode network dysfunction in addiction

Neuroimage. 2019 Oct 15:200:313-331. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.06.036. Epub 2019 Jun 21.


Aberrant patterns of brain functional connectivity in the default mode network (DMN) have been observed across different classes of substance use disorder (SUD) and are associated with craving and relapse. In addicted individuals resting functional connectivity (RSFC) of the anterior DMN, which participates in attribution of personal value and emotional regulation, tends to be decreased, whereas RSFC of the posterior DMN, which directs attention to the internal world, tends to be increased. Aberrant RSFC within the DMN is believed to contribute to impaired self-awareness, negative emotions and to ruminations in addiction. Additionally, the disrupted connectivity between DMN and cortical regions involved with executive function, memory and emotion could be critical to drug-taking regardless of negative consequences and to stress-triggered relapse. At the system level, the dynamics of DMN interactions with the executive control and the salience networks are also disturbed in addiction. The DMN is prominently engaged during the withdrawal and preoccupation phases of the addiction cycle at the expense of the executive control network and with an enhanced participation of the salience network. In contrast, DMN prominence appears to be transitorily decreased during the intoxication phases. There is also growing evidence that disruption of the DMN in addiction reflects in part changes in dopaminergic, glutamatergic, and GABAergic signaling associated with acute and chronic drug use. Findings are starting to reveal DMN RSFC as a potential biomarker for predicting clinical outcomes in SUD and identify the DMN as a promising target for the treatment of addiction.

Keywords: Dopaminergic dysfunction; Interoception; Medial prefrontal cortex; Posterior cingulate cortex /precuneus; Resting-state functional connectivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*