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Reduction in N2 amplitude in response to deviant drug-related stimuli during a two-choice oddball task in long-term heroin abstainers

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Abstract

Rationale

Chronic heroin use can cause deficits in response inhibition, leading to a loss of control over drug use, particularly in the context of drug-related cues. Unfortunately, heightened incentive salience and motivational bias in response to drug-related cues may exist following abstinence from heroin use.

Objectives

The present study aimed to examine the effect of drug-related cues on response inhibition in long-term heroin abstainers.

Methods

Sixteen long-term (8–24 months) male heroin abstainers and 16 male healthy controls completed a modified two-choice oddball paradigm, in which a neutral “chair” picture served as frequent standard stimuli; the neutral and drug-related pictures served as infrequent deviant stimuli of different conditions respectively. Event-related potentials were compared across groups and conditions.

Results

Our results showed that heroin abstainers exhibited smaller N2d amplitude (deviant minus standard) in the drug cue condition compared to the neutral condition, due to smaller drug-cue deviant-N2 amplitude compared to neutral deviant-N2. Moreover, heroin abstainers had smaller N2d amplitude compared with the healthy controls in the drug cue condition, due to the heroin abstainers having reduced deviant-N2 amplitude compared to standard-N2 in the drug cue condition, which reversed in the healthy controls.

Conclusions

Our findings suggested that heroin addicts still show response inhibition deficits specifically for drug-related cues after longer-term abstinence. The inhibition-related N2 modulation for drug-related could be used as a novel electrophysiological index with clinical implications for assessing the risk of relapse and treatment outcome for heroin users.

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Correspondence to Ling Yang or Grace Y. Wang.

Ethics declarations

This study received ethical approval from the Northwest Normal University Research Ethics Board, and written consent was obtained from all participants prior to their enrollment in the study.

Role of funding sources

Funding for this study was provided by grants (31360233, 31660276) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC). The NNSFC had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Su, B., Wang, S., Sumich, A. et al. Reduction in N2 amplitude in response to deviant drug-related stimuli during a two-choice oddball task in long-term heroin abstainers. Psychopharmacology 234, 3195–3205 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-017-4707-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-017-4707-5

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