The prevalent spatial distribution of abnormalities reported in cognitive fMRI studies in addiction suggests there are extensive disruptions across whole brain networks. Studies using resting state have reported disruptions in network connectivity in addiction, but these studies have not revealed characteristics of network functioning during critical psychological processes that are disrupted in addiction populations. Analytic methods that can capture key features of whole brain networks during psychological processes may be more sensitive in revealing additional and widespread neural disturbances in addiction, that are the provisions for relapse risk, and targets for medication development. The current study compared a substance addiction (ADD; n = 83) group in extended abstinence with a control (CON; n = 68) group on functional MRI (voxel-wise activation) and global network (connectivity) measures related to reward anticipation on a monetary incentive delay task. In the absence of group differences on MID performance, the ADD group showed reduced activation predominantly across temporal and visual regions, but not across the striatum. The ADD group also showed disruptions in global network connectivity (lower clustering coefficient and higher characteristic path length), and significantly less connectivity across a sub-network comprising frontal, temporal, limbic and striatal nodes. These results show that an addiction group in extended abstinence exhibit localised disruptions in brain activation, but more extensive disturbances in functional connectivity across whole brain networks. We propose that measures of global network functioning may be more sensitive in highlighting latent and more widespread neural disruptions during critical psychological processes in addiction and other psychiatric disorders.
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