ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (8): 861-874.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.00861

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Structural and functional characteristics of impulsive-related brain regions in heroin addicts with long-term withdrawal

CAI Huiyan1,†, MIAO Xin2,†, LIN Zhiwei3, WANG Mengcheng1, YANG Wendeng1, LI Jiayi, MA Yankun1(), WANG Pengfei1(), ZENG Hong1()   

  1. 1Department of Psychology, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
    2Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
    3Guangdong Secondary Compulsory Substance Rehabilitation Center, Foshan 528135, China
  • Received:2021-03-22 Published:2021-08-25 Online:2021-06-25
  • Contact: MA Yankun,WANG Pengfei,ZENG Hong;;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(31771214);“Relapse prevention training for drug addicts” is a cooperative project between the second compulsory isolation treatment center of Guangdong Province and Guangzhou University


Impulsivity is a typical characteristic of drug addicts, which includes both the power of restraining and controlling drug use, and the component of driving drug use. Heroin addicts themselves have impulsive personality traits, and long-term heroin use will lead to the abnormalities in brain structures and functions related to impulsivity. It is difficult to determine whether impulsivity and related brain structures and functions remain abnormal after withdrawal. Using voxel-based morphometry, amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF), regional homogeneity (ReHo) and functional connectivity analysis, 35 heroin addicts and 26 healthy individuals without any history of addiction were studied to explore the structure and function of the brain network of drive and control system related to impulsivity in heroin addicts after long-term withdrawal. The results showed that the total volume of gray matter and the volume of gray matter in the right medial frontal gyrus significantly decreased, and the volume of gray matter in the right middle temporal gyrus and left medial cingulate gyrus decreased with the increase of the total amount of medication. The functional connectivity between the right orbitofrontal gyrus and the caudate nucleus significantly enhanced. The functional connectivity between the right middle temporal gyrus and the left anterior central gyrus significantly decreased. The ReHo values of the right orbitofrontal gyrus, the ALFF values of the right inferior orbitofrontal gyrus and the left hippocampus were significantly lower than those of the control group. The value of ReHo was significantly higher in the right posterior central gyrus. The condition of these brain areas is consistent with the neural basis of impulsivity, indicating that the reward, salience, and custom networks of heroin addicts remain abnormal after 44 months of withdrawal, and are related to the total amount of addictive drugs used. These abnormalities may be the neural basis of addictive impulsivity and may be one of the factors that explain the relapse of addicts after withdrawal.

Key words: heroin addiction, voxel-based morphometry, amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation, regional homogeneity, functional connectivity