A voxel-wise meta-analysis of task-based functional MRI studies on impaired gain and loss processing in adults with addiction

A voxel-wise meta-analysis of task-based functional MRI studies on impaired gain and loss processing in adults with addiction

J Psychiatry Neurosci 2021;46(1):E128-E146 | PDF | Appendix

Zeguo Qiu, BSc; Junjing Wang, PhD

Background: Disturbances in gain and loss processing have been extensively reported in adults with addiction, a brain disorder characterized by obsession with addictive substances or behaviours. Previous studies have provided conflicting results with respect to neural abnormalities in gain processing in addiction, and few investigations into loss processing.

Methods: We conducted voxel-wise metaanalyses of abnormal task-evoked regional activities in adults with substance dependence and gambling addiction during the processing of gains and losses not related to their addiction (mainly monetary). We identified 24 studies, including 465 participants with substance dependence, 81 with gambling addiction and 490 healthy controls.

Results: Compared with healthy controls, all participants with addictions showed hypoactivations in the prefrontal cortex, striatum and insula and hyperactivations in the default mode network during gain anticipation; hyperactivations in the prefrontal cortex and both hyper- and hypoactivations in the striatum during loss anticipation; and hyperactivations in the occipital lobe during gain outcome. In the substance dependence subgroup, activity in the occipital lobe was increased during gain anticipation but decreased during loss anticipation.

Limitations: We were unable to conduct meta-analyses in the gambling addiction subgroup because of a limited data set. We did not investigate the effects of clinical variables because of limited information.

Conclusion: The current study identified altered brain activity associated with higher- and lower-level function during gain and loss processing for non-addiction (mainly monetary) stimuli in adults with substance dependence and gambling addiction. Adults with addiction were more sensitive to anticipatory gains than losses at higher- and lower-level brain areas. These results may help us to better understand the pathology of gain and loss processing in addiction.


Submitted Mar. 9, 2020; Revised Jul. 8, 2020; Accepted Jul. 10, 2020; Early-released Nov. 13, 2020

Affiliations: From the Department of Applied Psychology, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou 510006, China (Qiu, Wang); and the School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane 4067, Australia (Qiu).

Competing interests: No competing interests declared.

Contributors: Z. Qiu and J. Wang designed the study. Z. Qiu acquired the data, which both authors analyzed. Both authors wrote the article, which both authors reviewed. Both authors approved the final version to be published and can certify that no other individuals not listed as authors have made substantial contributions to the paper.

Funding: This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81801685); National Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, China (2018A030310003).

Content licence: This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided that the original publication is properly cited, the use is non-commercial (i.e. research or educational use), and no modifications or adaptations are made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

DOI: 10.1503/jpn.200047

Correspondence to: J. Wang, Department of Applied Psychology, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou 510006, China; lwwangjunjing@126.com