Cocaine use disorder (CUD) and gambling disorder (GD) share clinical features and neural alterations, including emotion regulation deficits and dysfunctional activation in related networks. However, they also exhibit differential aspects, such as the neuroadaptive effects of long-term drug consumption in CUD as compared to GD. Neuroimaging research aimed at disentangling their shared and specific alterations can contribute to improve understanding of both disorders.
We compared CUD (N = 15), GD (N = 16) and healthy comparison (HC; N = 17) groups using a network-based approach for studying temporally coherent functional networks during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of an emotion regulation task. We focused our analysis in limbic, ventral frontostriatal, dorsal attentional (DAN) and executive networks (FPN), given their involvement in emotion regulation and their alteration in CUD and GD. Correlations with measures of emotional experience and impulsivity (UPPS-P) were also performed.
The limbic network was significantly decreased during emotional processing both for CUD and GD individuals compared to the HC group. Furthermore, GD participants compared to HC showed an increased activation in the ventral frontostriatal network during emotion regulation. Finally, networks' activation patterns were modulated by impulsivity traits.
Functional network analyses revealed both overlapping and unique effects of stimulant and gambling addictions on neural networks underpinning emotion regulation.