Smaller Regional Gray Matter Volume in Homeless African American Cocaine-Dependent Men: A Preliminary Report

Rosalyn. E Weller*, 1 , Luke E Stoeckel1, 2, Jesse B Milby1, Mark Bolding3, Donald B Twieg4, Robert C Knowlton5, Malcolm J Avison6, Zhaohua Ding6
1 Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Birmingham, AL, London
2 Current address: Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, London
3 Department of Vision Sciences, UAB, Birmingham, AL, London
4 Department of Biomedical Engineering, UAB, Birmingham, AL
5 Department of Neurology, UAB, Birmingham, AL
6 Department of Radiological Sciences and Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Sciences (VUIIS), Nashville, TN, London

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© Weller et al; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the UAB Department of Psychology, 415 Campbell Hall, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-1170, UK; Tel: 205-934-8563; Fax: 205-975-6110; E-mail:


Models of addiction include abnormalities in parts of the brain involving executive function/inhibitory control. Although previous studies have reported evidence of structural abnormalities in cocaine-dependent individuals, none have specifically targeted the homeless. The present preliminary study investigated brain structure in such an understudied group, homeless, crack-cocaine-dependent African American men (n = 9), comparing it to that in healthy controls (n = 8). Structural data were analyzed using voxel based morphometry (VBM) and a regions of interest (ROI) analysis. Homeless cocaine-dependent individuals had smaller gray matter volume in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, the cerebellum, insula, and superior temporal gyrus. Most of these areas subserve executive function or inhibitory control. These results are similar to those found in most previous studies of non-homeless cocaine-dependent individuals. Reduced gray matter in executive function/inhibitory control regions of the brain in cocaine-dependent individuals may be a preexisting risk factor for the development of addiction and/or a consequence of drug abuse.

Keywords: Addiction, VBM, executive function, inhibitory control.