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Liao Y, Tang J, Liu J, Xie A, Yang M, Johnson M, Wang X, Deng Q, Chen H, Xiang X, Liu T, Chen X, Song M, Hao W. 
“Decreased Thalamocortical Connectivity in Chronic Ketamine Users”. 
PLoS One. 2016;11(12):e0167381.
Disintegration in thalamocortical integration suggests its role in the mechanistic 'switch' from recreational to dysregulated drug seeking/addiction. In this study, we aimed to address whether thalamic nuclear groups show altered functional connectivity within the cerebral cortex in chronic ketamine users. One hundred and thirty subjects (41 ketamine users and 89 control subjects) underwent rsfMRI (resting-state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging). Based on partial correlation functional connectivity analysis we partitioned the thalamus into six nuclear groups that correspond well with human histology. Then, in the area of each nuclear group, the functional connectivity differences between the chronic ketamine user group and normal control group were investigated. We found that the ketamine user group showed significantly less connectivity between the thalamic nuclear groups and the cortical regions-of-interest, including the prefrontal cortex, the motor cortex /supplementary motor area, and the posterior parietal cortex. However, no increased thalamic connectivity was observed for these regions as compared with controls. This study provides the first evidence of abnormal thalamocortical connectivity of resting state brain activity in chronic ketamine users. Further understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms of the thalamus in addiction (ketamine addiction) may facilitate the evaluation of much-needed novel pharmacological agents for improved therapy of this complex disease.
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