Beyond cue reactivity: Non-drug-related motivationally relevant stimuli are necessary to understand reactivity to drug-related cues

Francesco Versace, Jeffrey M. Engelmann, Menton M. Deweese, Jason D. Robinson, Charles E. Green, Cho Y. Lam, Jennifer A. Minnix, Maher A. Karam-Hage, David W. Wetter, Susan M. Schembre, Paul M. Cinciripini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neurobiological models of addiction posit that drug use can alter reward processes in two ways: (1) by increasing the motivational relevance of drugs and drug-related cues and (2) by reducing the motivational relevance of non-drug-related rewards. Here, we discuss the results from a series of neuroimaging studies in which we assessed the extent to which these hypotheses apply to nicotine dependence. In these studies, we recorded smokers' and nonsmokers' brain responses to a wide array of motivationally relevant visual stimuli that included pleasant, unpleasant, cigarette-related and neutral images. Based on these findings, we highlight the flaws of the traditional cue reactivity paradigm and we conclude that responses to non-drug-related motivationally relevant stimuli should be used to appropriately gauge the motivational relevance of cigarette-related cues and to identify smokers attributing higher motivational relevance to drug-related cues than to non-drug-related rewards. Identifying these individuals is clinically relevant as they achieve lower rates of long-term smoking abstinence when attempting to quit. Finally, we show how this approach may be extended beyond nicotine dependence to inform theoretical and clinical research in the study of obesity. Implications: The cue reactivity paradigm (ie, comparing responses evoked by drug-related cues to those evoked by neutral cues) cannot provide conclusive information about the motivational relevance of drug-related cues. Responses to non-drug-related motivationally relevant stimuli should be used to appropriately gauge the level of motivational relevance that substance-dependent individuals attribute to drug-related cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-669
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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