Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychiatry, 16 July 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00067

Neural circuitry of impulsivity in a cigarette craving paradigm

Josiane Bourque1,2, Adrianna Mendrek1,3, Laurence Dinh-Williams1,2 and Stéphane Potvin1,2*
  • 1Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire de Santé Mentale de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada
  • 3Department of Psychology, Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada

Impulsivity has been shown to play a pivotal role in the onset, pattern of consumption, relapse and, most notably, craving of illicit and licit drugs such as cigarette smoking. The goal of this study was to examine the neurobiological influence of trait impulsivity during cue-induced cigarette craving. Thirty-one chronic smokers passively viewed appetitive smoking-related and neutral images while being scanned and reported their feelings of craving. They completed the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, a measure of trait impulsivity. We conducted functional connectivity analyses using the psycho-physiological interaction method. During the processing of smoking stimuli, participants presented increased activations in the cingulate and prefrontal cortices. We observed a significant positive relationship between impulsivity scores and reported craving. A negative correlation was observed between the impulsivity score and activity in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). The insula, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) as well as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) presented a negative connectivity with the PCC. Consistent with the view that the PCC is related to the ability to resist cigarette craving, our results suggest that high impulsive smokers have greater difficulty in controlling their cravings, and that this weakness may be mediated by lower PCC activity. Moreover, we argue that the less PCC activity, the greater the probability of a stronger emotional, physiological, and biased attentional response to smoking cues mediated by insula, dACC, and DLPFC activity. This is the first study on this topic, and so, results will need to be replicated in both licit and illicit drug abusers. Our findings also highlight a need for more emphasis on the PCC in drug addiction research, as it is one of the most consistently activated regions in functional magnetic resonance imaging studies examining the neural correlates of cue-induced alcohol, drug, and tobacco cravings.

Keywords: craving, impulsivity, cigarette smoking, neural correlates, fMRI

Citation: Bourque J, Mendrek A, Dinh-Williams L and Potvin S (2013) Neural circuitry of impulsivity in a cigarette craving paradigm. Front. Psychiatry 4:67. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00067

Received: 24 May 2013; Accepted: 27 June 2013;
Published online: 16 July 2013.

Edited by:

Janna Cousijn, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Reviewed by:

Sabine Vollstädt-Klein, Heidelberg University, Germany
Lindsay M. Squeglia, University of California San Diego, USA

Copyright: © 2013 Bourque, Mendrek, Dinh-Williams and Potvin. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Stéphane Potvin, Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire de Santé Mentale de Montréal, 7331 Hochelaga, Montréal, QC H1N 3V2, Canada e-mail: stephane.potvin@umontreal.ca