Brain substrates of social decision-making in dual diagnosis: Cocaine dependence and personality disorders

Antonio Verdejo-Garcia, Juan Verdejo-Román, Natalia Albein-Urios, José M. Martínez-González, Carles Soriano-Mas

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Cocaine dependence frequently co-occurs with personality disorders, leading to increased interpersonal problems and greater burden of disease. Personality disorders are characterised by patterns of thinking and feeling that divert from social expectations. However, the comorbidity between cocaine dependence and personality disorders has not been substantiated by measures of brain activation during social decision-making. We applied functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare brain activations evoked by a social decision-making task-the Ultimatum Game-in 24 cocaine dependents with personality disorders (CDPD), 19 cocaine dependents without comorbidities and 19 healthy controls. In the Ultimatum Game participants had to accept or reject bids made by another player to split monetary stakes. Offers varied in fairness (in fair offers the proposer shares ~50 percent of the money; in unfair offers the proposer shares <30 percent of the money), and participants were told that if they accept both players get the money, and if they reject both players lose it. We contrasted brain activations during unfair versus fair offers and accept versus reject choices. During evaluation of unfair offers CDPD displayed lower activation in the insula and the anterior cingulate cortex and higher activation in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and superior frontal and temporal gyri. Frontal activations negatively correlated with emotion recognition. During rejection of offers CDPD displayed lower activation in the anterior cingulate cortex, striatum and midbrain. Dual diagnosis is linked to hypo-activation of the insula and anterior cingulate cortex and hyper-activation of frontal-temporal regions during social decision-making, which associates with poorer emotion recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-467
Number of pages11
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Interpersonal function
  • Multi-player games
  • Personality disorders
  • Social decision-making

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