The Effects of Expectation on Natural and Drug -Induced Rewards

2014-08-27 03:17:07 | BioPortfolio



- Environmental cues frequently induce expectancies in individuals that may strongly influence the actual experience associated with the cue. This has both positive and negative consequences for behavior and decision making. For instance, when an addicted individual experiences cues associated with imminent drug taking, an expectancy of the coming experience is also formed and very likely has an effect on the subsequent experience of the drug.

- Researchers are interested in studying how the brain responds to these kinds of environmental cues and expectancies in order to learn more about addiction and craving in substance-abusing individuals.


- To compare the response to rewards (both drug-related and non-drug-related) in cocaine-dependent individuals and nondependent individuals.

- To study the effect of expectation on reward-related (both drug-induced and non-drug-induced) responses and brain activity in cocaine-dependent individuals and nondependent individuals.


- Individuals between 18 and 45 years of age who are cocaine dependent and are not interested in treatment but are otherwise healthy, or who have a history of some stimulant use but no current use (in the past year) or history of other substance abuse.

- Individuals must like the taste of cherry-flavored Kool-Aid and Hershey's chocolate syrup.


- This study involves two experiments. Participants will be assigned to one or both experiments.

- Participants must not use any drugs for at least 3 days before the visit, may not consume alcohol for 24 hours before the visit, and may not consume caffeinated beverages for 12 hours before the visit. On the day of the visit, participants will provide both urine and breath samples to test for drug/alcohol use.

- Experiment 1: In the MRI scanner, participants will respond to questions and images on a screen, and will receive small amounts of flavored liquid (chocolate or cherry) through a tube in the mouth.

- Experiment 2: In the MRI scanner, participants will respond to questions and images on a screen, and will receive injections of liquid (saline solution or a drug that provides a high similar to cocaine) through an intravenous line. Participants in this experiment will return for follow-up visits and provide urine samples for further study.

- The specific assignment (to Experiment 1 or Experiment 2 or both experiments) will determine the number of study days and ...


Objective: Environmental cues frequently induce expectancies in the course of normal daily life. When an individual smells and sees the coffee before tasting it, an expectancy of the coming experience is formed that influences the actual experience of consuming the coffee. Similarly, when an addicted individual experiences cues associated with imminent drug taking, an expectancy of the coming experience is also formed and very likely has an effect on the subsequent experience of the drug. This protocol will examine neural responses to cues predictive of a stimulus (neutral or rewarding) and to the subsequent receipt of the predicted stimulus or an erroneous stimulus.

Study Population: Study participants will include 18-45 year old, male and non-pregnant female otherwise healthy cocaine dependent individuals and control individuals who have a history of some stimulant use but no history of abuse or dependence on any drug other than nicotine.

Design: The study will be a double-blind crossover design, employing fMRI to elucidate the neural underpinnings of reward processing. (Please note, the research assistant running the experiment and the participant will be blind to the drug administered. The physician attending the experiment will not). The rewarding stimuli to be studied will be taste stimuli (small squirt of juice or chocolate) and a drug stimulus (intravenous methylphenidate (IV MPH)). For taste stimuli, cues will vary in sensory modality (visual vs. olfactory) and in novelty (well-known vs. novel). The effect of expectancy on the subsequent experience of the stimulus will be explored by occasionally delaying the time of stimulus receipt. Each sensory modality and flavor will be combined once with delay errors on one of four separate experimental days. Novel and well-known cue stimuli will be included on each experimental day. Drug stimuli will be cued verbally/written. The effect of expectancy on the receipt of the drug will be examined by pairing an accurate or an inaccurate cue with a single injection of MPH or saline on each of four separate experimental days.

Outcome Measures: BOLD fMRI signal to reward stimuli will be compared in the various cuing conditions.

Study Design



Drug Abuse


National Institute on Drug Abuse, Biomedical Research Center (BRC)
United States




National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:17:07-0400

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