Anticipatory Reward Processing in Addicted Populations: A Focus on the Monetary Incentive Delay Task Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Advances in brain imaging techniques have allowed neurobiological research to temporally analyze signals coding for the anticipation of reward. In addicted populations, both hyporesponsiveness and hyperresponsiveness of brain regions (e.g., ventral striatum) implicated in drug effects and reward system processing have been reported during anticipation of generalized reward. We discuss the current state of knowledge of reward processing in addictive disorders from a widely used and validated task: the monetary incentive delay task. Only studies applying the monetary incentive delay task in addicted and at-risk adult populations are reviewed, with a focus on anticipatory processing and striatal regions activated during task performance as well as the relationship of these regions with individual difference (e.g., impulsivity) and treatment outcome variables. We further review drug influences in challenge studies as a means to examine acute influences on reward processing in abstinent, recreationally using, and addicted populations. Generalized reward processing in addicted and at-risk populations is often characterized by divergent anticipatory signaling in the ventral striatum. Although methodologic and task variations may underlie some discrepant findings, anticipatory signaling in the ventral striatum may also be influenced by smoking status, drug metabolites, and treatment status in addicted populations. Divergent results across abstinent, recreationally using, and addicted populations demonstrate complexities in interpreting findings. Future studies would benefit from focusing on characterizing how impulsivity and other addiction-related features relate to anticipatory striatal signaling over time. Additionally, identifying how anticipatory signals recover or adjust after protracted abstinence will be important in understanding recovery processes.

publication date

  • March 2015