Aberrant interhemispheric functional and structural connectivity in heroin-dependent individuals

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Models of heroin addiction emphasize the role of disrupted frontostriatal circuitry supporting cognitive control processes. However, heroin addiction-related alterations in functional and structural interactions among brain regions, especially between the cerebral hemispheres, are rarely examined directly. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) approaches, which reveal patterns of coherent spontaneous fluctuations in the fMRI signal, offer a means to quantify directly functional interactions between the hemispheres. The corpus callosum (CC), which connects homologous regions of the cortex, is the major conduit for information transfer between the cerebral hemispheres and represents a structural connectivity index between hemispheres. We compared interhemispheric voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity (VMHC) and CC volume between 45 heroin dependent-individuals (HDIs) and 35 non-addict individuals. We observed significant reduction of VMHC in a number of regions, particularly the striatum/limbic system regions, and significant decrease in splenium and genu sub-regions of CC in HDI. Importantly, within HDI, VMHC in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) correlated with genu CC volume, VMHC in the putamen, VMHC in the DLPFC and genu CC volume and splenium CC volume were negatively correlated with heroin duration and impulsivity traits. Further analyses demonstrated that impairment of VMHC of bilateral DLPFC partially mediated the association between genu CC volumes decreased and increased impulsivity in HDI. Our results reveal a substantial impairment of interhemispheric coordination in the HDI. Further, interhemispheric connectivity correlated with the duration of heroin abuse and higher impulsivity behavior in HDI. Our findings provide insight into a heroin addicts' related pathophysiology and reinforce an integrative view of the interhemispheric cerebral functional and structural organization.

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