Denial in methamphetamine users: Associations with cognition and functional connectivity in brain

Andy C. Dean, Milky Kohno, Angelica M. Morales, Dara G. Ghahremani, Edythe D. London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Despite harmful consequences of drug addiction, it is common for individuals with substance use disorders to deny having problems with drugs. Emerging evidence suggests that some drug users lack insight into their behavior due to neurocognitive dysfunction, but little research has examined potential neurocognitive contributions to denial. Methods: This study explored the relationship between denial, cognitive performance and functional connectivity in brain. The participants were 58 non-treatment-seeking, methamphetamine-dependent participants who completed the URICA precontemplation scale, a self-report measure of denial of drug problems warranting change, as well as a cognitive test battery. A subset of participants (N= 21) had functional MRI scans assessing resting-state functional connectivity. Given literature indicating roles of the rostral anterior cingulate (rACC), anterior insula and precuneus in self-awareness, relationships between denial and resting-state connectivity were tested using seeds placed in these regions. Results: The results revealed a negative relationship between denial and an overall cognitive battery score (p= 0.001), the effect being driven particularly by performance on tests of memory and executive function. Denial was negatively associated with strength of connectivity between the rACC and regions of the frontal lobe (precentral gyri, left ventromedial prefrontal cortex, left orbitofrontal cortex), limbic system (left amygdala, left hippocampus and left parahippocampal gyrus), occipital lobes and cerebellum; and between the precuneus and the midbrain and cerebellum. Anterior insula connectivity was unrelated to denial. Conclusions: These findings suggest that denial by methamphetamine users is linked with a cognitive and neural phenotype that may impede the development of insight into their behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-91
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Volume151
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Awareness
  • Cognition
  • Connectivity
  • Denial
  • Insight
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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