Blunted prefrontal signature of proactive inhibitory control in cocaine use disorder

Kabir B. Nigam, Lisa K. Straub, Edward A. Zuniga, Aysha Sami, Kathryn A. Cunningham, Noelle C. Anastasio, F. Gerard Moeller, James M. Bjork

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Impulsivity is an established risk factor for substance use disorder (SUD). Integral to SUD recovery is proactive control (leveraging information about a potential need for behavioral restraint to marshal increased cognitive resources toward inhibition) when cues for drug use are unavoidable. However, proactive control is little studied in SUD, and is merely inferred from post-error performance adjustments. Methods: We probed covert neurocircuit signatures of proactive control in persons with SUD, as well as the moderating effects of incentives for successfully exerting proactive control. We administered a Monetary Incentive Stop Task (MIST) during functional magnetic resonance imaging of adults with cocaine use disorder (CUD; n = 21) and healthy controls (n = 21). The MIST blended the reward and loss-anticipatory cues of the Monetary Incentive Delay (MID) Task with a variant of the Stop-Signal Task, in which target color signaled whether or not withholding a response might be necessary. Results: In controls, but not in CUD participants, targets that signaled a potential need to stop (as a contrast with targets that signaled no need to stop) activated portions of right operculum akin to activation commonly elicited by stop signals, despite no actual stop signal. Across all participants, this proactive control activation did not relate to task behavior or to questionnaire impulsivity. Anticipatory incentive cues did not recruit ventral striatum. Conclusions: These data suggest that persons with CUD show blunted covert signatures of attention and proactive control. This potentially accounts in part for the role of poor executive function in relapse vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108402
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Addiction
  • Behavioral inhibition
  • Cocaine use disorder
  • Neurocircuitry
  • Neuroimaging
  • Proactive inhibitory control
  • Stop-signal task
  • Substance use disorder
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Blunted prefrontal signature of proactive inhibitory control in cocaine use disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this