Original Article

Neuropsychopharmacology (2005) 30, 1940–1947. doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1300780; published online 25 May 2005

Clinical Research

Abstinence-Induced Changes in Self-Report Craving Correlate with Event-Related fMRI Responses to Smoking Cues

Parts of this paper were presented in poster format at the meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, Scottsdale, AZ in February 2004

F Joseph McClernon1, F Berry Hiott1, Scott A Huettel1 and Jed E Rose1

1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA

Correspondence: Dr FJ McClernon, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, DUMC 2701, Durham, NC 27708, USA. Tel: +1 919 668 3987; Fax: +1 919 668 5088; E-mail: mccle011@mc.duke.edu

Received 21 December 2004; Revised 31 March 2005; Accepted 12 April 2005; Published online 25 May 2005.



Drug cues have been shown to activate brain regions involved in attention, motivation, and reward in addicted users. However, as studies have typically measured responses in only one state (ie drug abstinence), it is unclear whether observed activations represent amplification by abstinence or stable responses. Thus, the present study was designed to evaluate the stability of event-related responses to visual drug cues in dependent smokers (n=13) using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging measures. Imaging was conducted following smoking as usual and following overnight abstinence, and self-reported craving measures were obtained before, during, and after scanning. Analysis of hemodynamic response (HDR) amplitudes in each of 13 regions of interest revealed larger responses to smoking compared to control cues in ventral anterior cingulate gyrus (vACG) and superior frontal gyrus. Responses to smoking cues in these and all other regions revealed no effects of abstinence/satiety, thus supporting the notion that cue-elicited brain responses are relatively stable. However, while the abstinence manipulation did not alter group-level responses to smoking cues, at the individual level, abstinence-induced changes in craving (abstinence minus satiety) were positively correlated with changes in HDR amplitude to smoking cues in frontal regions including left inferior frontal gyrus, left vACG, and bilateral middle frontal gyrus. These results suggest that brain responses to smoking cues, while relatively stable at the group level following short-term abstinence, may be modulated by individual differences in craving in response to abstinence—particularly in regions subserving attention and motivation.


magnetic resonance imaging, tobacco use disorder, smoking

Extra navigation