Imaging Substance Use and Misuse: Psychostimulants

  • Tara L. White


Neuroimaging provides a dynamic window on the effects of psychoactive substances on the structure and function of human brain. As a field, neuroimaging of substance abuse is broad and includes investigation of processes involved in chronic drug effects and addiction such as craving, compulsive drug seeking, and compulsive drug use; initial drug effects that include sedative, stimulant, cognitive, and behavioral effects; and potential between-person factors relevant to substance use and misuse such as gender, family history, age, and other factors. Given this scope, this chapter has been restricted to three main topical areas: (1) overarching research questions in neuroimaging of substance use and misuse, (2) methodological issues typically encountered in the field, and (3) between-person factors that may confer a vulnerability to, or protection from, the development and maintenance of substance use and misuse. Many substances have been studied using neuroimaging methods, including alcohol, nicotine, opiates, cannabinoids, cocaine, and amphetamine. The chapter focuses on the classic psychostimulants cocaine and amphetamine, which serve as archetypal drugs of abuse because of their impact on dopamine, which is processed by the brain as highly salient and motivates the approach and acquisition of the drug [Volkow et al. (Neuropharmacology 56(1):3–8, 2009)].


Positron Emission Tomography Nucleus Accumbens Harm Avoidance Cocaine Dependence Stimulant Drug 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) grants DA020725 and DA017178 to TL White.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Department of Community HealthBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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