Chronic alcohol intake abolishes the relationship between dopamine synthesis capacity and learning signals in the ventral striatum
Lorenz Deserno, Anne Beck, Quentin J. M. Huys, Robert C. Lorenz, Ralph Buchert, Hans-Georg Buchholz, Michail Plotkin, Yoshitaka Kumakara, Paul Cumming, Hans-Jochen Heinze, Anthony A. Grace, Michael A. Rapp, Florian Schlagenhauf and Andreas Heinz
Article first published online: 26 DEC 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/ejn.12802
In alcohol dependence, ‘hijacked’ dopamine signals may impair flexible learning from non-drug rewards. Using fMRI during reversal learning and FDOPA PET, this study suggests that dopaminergic modulation of ventral striatal learning signals is disrupted in alcohol dependence in proportion to long-term alcohol intake of patients. Alcohol intake may perpetuate itself by interfering with dopaminergic modulation of neural learning signals, thus increasing craving for habitual drug intake.