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Title: Functional organisation of behavioural inhibitory control mechanisms in cortico-basal ganglia circuitry : implications for stimulant use disorder
Author: Zhukovsky, Peter
ISNI:       0000 0004 9348 1164
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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The neural and psychological mechanisms of inhibitory control processes were investigated, focusing on the cortico-basal ganglia circuits in rats and humans. These included behavioural flexibility, ‘waiting’ and ‘stopping’ impulsivity and involved serial spatial reversal learning task in rodents, and in humans, premature responses in the Monetary Incentive Delay (MID) task and the stop-signal reaction time task. Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 focus on individual differences in behavioural flexibility in rats while Chapter 4, Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 consider how inhibitory control mechanisms are affected by the psychostimulant drug cocaine in both rats and humans. As reported in Chapter 2, systemic modulation of monoaminergic transmission by monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) inhibitors enhanced reversal learning performance, selectively by decreasing the lose-shift probability, thereby implicating a role for dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline in facilitating learning from negative feedback. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) revealed enhanced functional connectivity of the orbitofrontal and motor cortices as a correlate of flexible reversal learning performance, consistent with elevated levels of monoamines in these region (Chapter 3). Having clarified the mechanisms underlying behavioural flexibility in rats, Chapter 4 reports that escalation of intravenous cocaine self-administration induces behavioural inflexibility in rats even after a relatively short period of cocaine intake. Computational models, including a reinforced and Bayesian learner, revealed a lack of exploitation of the learned response-outcome relationships in cocaine-exposed rats. Chapter 5 focused on impulse control in human volunteers, identifying the striatal and cingulo-opercular networks as substrates of impulsive, premature responding in healthy 4 volunteers, stimulant-dependent individuals and their unaffected siblings. Loss of impulse control was elicited by different incentives for drug-free participants as opposed to drug users. Drug cues elicited striatal activation and increased premature responses in the stimulant-dependent group compared with the control group. In contrast, the ventral striatum was linked to incentive specific activation to reward anticipation. Task-based fMRI demonstrated that interactions between dorsal striatum and cingulo-opercular “cold cognition” networks underlie failures of impulse control in the control, at-risk and stimulant-dependent groups. However, whereas the cingulo-opercular networks were associated with premature responding in all groups, the reward system was activated specifically by the drug incentive cues in the stimulant group, and by monetary incentive cues in the drug-free groups. Chapter 6 presents evidence that corticostriatal functional and effective connectivity in an overlapping network that includes the anterior cingulate and inferior frontal cortices as well as motor cortex, the subthalamic nucleus and dorsal striatum, is critical to stopping impulse control in both control and cocaine individuals. No stopping efficiency impairments were observed in the cocaine-dependent group. Nevertheless, lower structural corticostriatal connectivity measured using diffusion MRI was associated with response execution impairments in cocaine participants performing a stop-signal reaction time task. Further, response execution was rescued by the selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor atomoxetine, which also increased corticostriatal effective connectivity. Finally, increased impulsivity and behavioural inflexibility seen in stimulant use disorder in Chapter 5 and Chapter 4, respectively, were not observed in the endophenotype at risk for developing stimulant abuse but were rather a consequence of stimulant abuse. These results further clarify the monoaminergic substrates of behavioural flexibility and specify the neural and computational impairments in inhibitory control induced by stimulant dependence.
Supervisor: Dalley, Jeffrey Sponsor: University of Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: stimulant use disorder ; fmri ; reinforced learning ; monoamine