The cue-reactivity paradigm is a widely adopted neuroimaging probe engendering brain activity
linked with attentional, affective, and reward processes following presentation of appetitive stimuli.
Given the multiple mental operations invoked, we sought to decompose cue-related brain activity
into constituent components employing emergent meta-analytic techniques when considering drug and
natural reward-related cues.
We conducted coordinate-based meta-analyses delineating common and distinct brain activity convergence
across cue-reactivity studies (N = 196 articles) involving drug (n = 133) or natural (n = 63) visual stimuli.
Across all studies, convergence was observed in limbic, cingulate, insula, and fronto-parieto-occipital regions.
Drug-distinct convergence was observed in posterior cingulate, dorsolateral prefrontal, and temporo-parietal regions,
whereas distinct-natural convergence was observed in thalamic, insular, orbitofrontal, and occipital regions.
We characterized connectivity profiles of identified regions by leveraging task-independent and task-dependent
MRI datasets, grouped these profiles into subnetworks, and linked each with putative mental operations.
Outcomes suggest multifaceted brain activity during cue-reactivity can be decomposed into elemental processes
and indicate that while drugs of abuse usurp the brain’s natural-reward-processing system, some regions appear
distinct to drug cue-reactivity.