Abstract: This chapter focuses on inhibitory control, largely operationalised as response inhibition, and its contribution to substance abuse, and highlights results from two classic tasks of response inhibition: the stop‐signal task, and the go/no‐go task. It discusses the relationship between response inhibition and substance abuse disorders as studied with functional neuroimaging and event‐related potentials, where response inhibition will be considered as a means to characterise the cognitive control deficits of substance‐dependent individuals. As the neural circuitry of response inhibition is relatively well understood and yields reliable and sensitive behavioural measures of inhibitory ability, it has generated a significant number of studies focused on the role of response inhibition in addiction. Neuroimaging research has identified the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) as a brain region critical for cognitive control. Inhibitory control has been repeatedly implicated in drug addiction and may be especially relevant for treatment success.
Abstract: Historically, neuroscientific research into addiction has emphasized affective and reinforcement mechanisms as the essential elements underlying the pursuit of drugs, their abuse, and difficulties associated with abstinence. However, research over the last decade or so has shown that cognitive control systems, associated largely but not exclusively with the frontal lobes, are also important contributors to drug use behaviors. Here, we focus on inhibitory control and its contribution to both current use and abstinence. A body of evidence points to impaired inhibitory abilities across a range of drugs of abuse. Typically, studies suggest that substance-abusing individuals are characterized by relative hypoactivity in brain systems underlying inhibitory control. In contrast, abstinent users tend to show either normal or supernormal levels of activity in the same systems attesting to the importance of inhibitory control in suppressing the drug use urges that plague attempts at abstinence. In this chapter, the brain and behavioral basis of response inhibition will be reviewed, with a focus on neuroimaging studies of response inhibition in current and abstinent drug abusers.