Disrupted Default Mode Network and Basal Craving in Male Heroin-Dependent Individuals: A Resting-State fMRI Study

Background: Craving is associated with a high probability of relapse. However, the relationship between functional connectivity in the default mode network (DMN) during resting state and basal craving of heroin-dependent individuals remains unknown.

Methods: Data used in the present study were collected between August 10, 2009, and June 28, 2011. Twenty-four male heroin-dependent individuals based on DSM-IV criteria and 20 male healthy control subjects participated in a study of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. The basal heroin craving of the heroin-dependent group was evaluated. The DMN networks were identified by group independent component analysis. The between-group difference in functional connectivity was analyzed, and the relationship between functional connectivity in the DMN and basal heroin craving in the heroin-dependent group was also analyzed.

Results: In all subjects, 2 spatially independent default mode subnetworks were identified: the anterior and posterior subnetworks. The anterior subnetwork, mainly the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, showed decreased functional connectivity in the heroin-dependent group relative to the healthy control group (P < .05, familywise error corrected). However, the functional connectivity in dorsal medial prefrontal cortex was negatively correlated with the basal craving of the heroin group (P = .01, r = −0.50). No significant difference in the functional connectivity of the posterior subnetwork was found.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that abnormal functional connectivity within the anterior subnetwork of DMN in heroin-dependent individuals is associated with basal heroin craving, and it may serve as neural underpinnings for the mechanism of heroin addiction.

J Clin Psychiatry 2016;77(10):e1211–e1217