Characterization of the Brain Functional Architecture of Psychostimulant Withdrawal Using Single-Cell Whole-Brain Imaging

eNeuro. 2021 Nov 4;8(6):ENEURO.0208-19.2021. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0208-19.2021. Print 2021 Nov-Dec.


Numerous brain regions have been identified as contributing to withdrawal behaviors, but it is unclear the way in which these brain regions as a whole lead to withdrawal. The search for a final common brain pathway that is involved in withdrawal remains elusive. To address this question, we implanted osmotic minipumps containing either saline, nicotine (24 mg/kg/d), cocaine (60 mg/kg/d), or methamphetamine (4 mg/kg/d) for one week in male C57BL/6J mice. After one week, the minipumps were removed and brains collected 8 h (saline, nicotine, and cocaine) or 12 h (methamphetamine) after removal. We then performed single-cell whole-brain imaging of neural activity during the withdrawal period when brains were collected. We used hierarchical clustering and graph theory to identify similarities and differences in brain functional architecture. Although methamphetamine and cocaine shared some network similarities, the main common neuroadaptation between these psychostimulant drugs was a dramatic decrease in modularity, with a shift from a cortical-driven to subcortical-driven network, including a decrease in total hub brain regions. These results demonstrate that psychostimulant withdrawal produces the drug-dependent remodeling of functional architecture of the brain and suggest that the decreased modularity of brain functional networks and not a specific set of brain regions may represent the final common pathway associated with withdrawal.

Keywords: addiction; functional connectivity; graph theory; iDISCO; neural activity; withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Cocaine*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuroimaging
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome* / diagnostic imaging


  • Cocaine