Corticostriatal and Dopaminergic Response to Beer Flavor with Both fMRI and [11C]raclopride Positron Emission Tomography

Brandon G. Oberlin, Mario Dzemidzic, Jaroslaw Harezlak, Maria A. Kudela, Stella M. Tran, Christina M. Soeurt, Karmen K. Yoder, David A. Kareken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Background: Cue-evoked drug-seeking behavior likely depends on interactions between frontal activity and ventral striatal (VST) dopamine (DA) transmission. Using [11C]raclopride (RAC) positron emission tomography (PET), we previously demonstrated that beer flavor (absent intoxication) elicited VST DA release in beer drinkers, inferred by RAC displacement. Here, a subset of subjects from this previous RAC-PET study underwent a similar paradigm during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to test how orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and VST blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) responses to beer flavor are related to VST DA release and motivation to drink. Methods: Male beer drinkers (n = 28, age = 24 ± 2, drinks/wk = 16 ± 10) from our previous PET study participated in a similar fMRI paradigm wherein subjects tasted their most frequently consumed brand of beer and Gatorade® (appetitive control). We tested for correlations between BOLD activation in fMRI and VST DA responses in PET, and drinking-related variables. Results: Compared to Gatorade, beer flavor increased wanting and desire to drink, and induced BOLD responses in bilateral OFC and right VST. Wanting and desire to drink correlated with both right VST and medial OFC BOLD activation to beer flavor. Like the BOLD findings, beer flavor (relative to Gatorade) again induced right VST DA release in this fMRI subject subset, but there was no correlation between DA release and the magnitude of BOLD responses in frontal regions of interest. Conclusions: Both imaging modalities showed a right-lateralized VST response (BOLD and DA release) to a drug-paired conditioned stimulus, whereas fMRI BOLD responses in the VST and medial OFC also reflected wanting and desire to drink. The data suggest the possibility that responses to drug-paired cues may be rightward biased in the VST (at least in right-handed males) and that VST and OFC responses in this gustatory paradigm reflect stimulus wanting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1865-1873
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Alcohol
  • Cue Reactivity
  • Ethanol
  • Nucleus Accumbens
  • Orbitofrontal Cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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