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Open AccessArticle

Pavlovian-To-Instrumental Transfer and Alcohol Consumption in Young Male Social Drinkers: Behavioral, Neural and Polygenic Correlates

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 10117 Berlin, Germany
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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Technische Universität Dresden, 01307 Dresden, Germany
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Neuroimaging Center, Technische Universität Dresden, 01187 Dresden, Germany
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Zurich Center for Neuroeconomics, Department of Economics, University of Zurich, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland
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Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Technische Universität Dresden, 01187 Dresden, Germany
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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, 01307 Dresden, Germany
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Social and Preventive Medicine, Area of Excellence Cognitive Sciences, University of Potsdam, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
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Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), 10117 Berlin, Germany
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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 80336 München, Germany
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Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA
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Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA
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Division of Psychiatry and Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Campus Charité Mitte.
J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8(8), 1188; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8081188
Received: 29 June 2019 / Revised: 4 August 2019 / Accepted: 6 August 2019 / Published: 8 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment & Treatment of Addictions: New Tools for Old Problems)
In animals and humans, behavior can be influenced by irrelevant stimuli, a phenomenon called Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT). In subjects with substance use disorder, PIT is even enhanced with functional activation in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and amygdala. While we observed enhanced behavioral and neural PIT effects in alcohol-dependent subjects, we here aimed to determine whether behavioral PIT is enhanced in young men with high-risk compared to low-risk drinking and subsequently related functional activation in an a-priori region of interest encompassing the NAcc and amygdala and related to polygenic risk for alcohol consumption. A representative sample of 18-year old men (n = 1937) was contacted: 445 were screened, 209 assessed: resulting in 191 valid behavioral, 139 imaging and 157 genetic datasets. None of the subjects fulfilled criteria for alcohol dependence according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-TextRevision (DSM-IV-TR). We measured how instrumental responding for rewards was influenced by background Pavlovian conditioned stimuli predicting action-independent rewards and losses. Behavioral PIT was enhanced in high-compared to low-risk drinkers (b = 0.09, SE = 0.03, z = 2.7, p < 0.009). Across all subjects, we observed PIT-related neural blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal in the right amygdala (t = 3.25, pSVC = 0.04, x = 26, y = −6, z = −12), but not in NAcc. The strength of the behavioral PIT effect was positively correlated with polygenic risk for alcohol consumption (rs = 0.17, p = 0.032). We conclude that behavioral PIT and polygenic risk for alcohol consumption might be a biomarker for a subclinical phenotype of risky alcohol consumption, even if no drug-related stimulus is present. The association between behavioral PIT effects and the amygdala might point to habitual processes related to out PIT task. In non-dependent young social drinkers, the amygdala rather than the NAcc is activated during PIT; possible different involvement in association with disease trajectory should be investigated in future studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer; amygdala; alcohol; polygenic risk; high risk drinkers Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer; amygdala; alcohol; polygenic risk; high risk drinkers
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Garbusow, M.; Nebe, S.; Sommer, C.; Kuitunen-Paul, S.; Sebold, M.; Schad, D.J.; Friedel, E.; Veer, I.M.; Wittchen, H.-U.; Rapp, M.A.; Ripke, S.; Walter, H.; Huys, Q.J.M.; Schlagenhauf, F.; Smolka, M.N.; Heinz, A. Pavlovian-To-Instrumental Transfer and Alcohol Consumption in Young Male Social Drinkers: Behavioral, Neural and Polygenic Correlates. J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8, 1188.

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