Compromised sensitivity to monetary reward in current cocaine users: An ERP study


  • This study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R.Z.G: 1K23 DA15517-01); Laboratory Directed Research and Development from U.S. Department of Energy (OBER), NARSAD Young Investigator Award and Stony Brook/Brookhaven National Laboratory seed grant (R.Z.G.: 79/1025459); National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (N.D.V.: AA/ODO9481-04), and General Clinical Research Center (5-MO1-RR-10710).

  • Notice: This manuscript has been authored by Brookhaven Science Associates, LLC under Contract No. DE-AC02-98CHI-886 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The United States Government retains, and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges, a world-wide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this manuscript, or allow others to do so, for the United States Government purposes.

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We studied modulation of the P300 by monetary reward expected to be received on a sustained attention task in 18 individuals with current cocaine use disorders (CUD) and 18 control subjects. Results in the controls revealed sensitivity to money as measured with P300 amplitude and speed of behavioral response and their intercorrelations. In contrast, despite generally faster P300 waveforms and higher self-reported interest in the task, individuals with CUD did not display these responses to money versus nonreward; at the behavioral level, this impairment correlated with frequency of recent cocaine use. These preliminary results suggest a compromised sensitivity to a secondary reinforcer in CUD. This deficit, which needs to be replicated in larger samples of people with currently active versus abstaining CUD, may underlie the compromised ability to advantageously modify behavior in response to changing inner motivations and environmental contingencies.