Opioid antagonism modulates wanting-related frontostriatal connectivity

Alexander Soutschek*, Susanna C. Weber, Thorsten Kahnt, Boris B. Quednow, Philippe N. Tobler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theoretical accounts distinguish between motivational (‘wanting’) and hedonic (‘liking’) dimensions of rewards. Previous animal and human research linked wanting and liking to anatomically and neurochemically distinct brain mechanisms, but it remains unknown how the different brain regions and neurotransmitter systems interact in processing distinct reward dimensions. Here, we assessed how pharmacological manipulations of opioid and dopamine receptor activation modulate the neural processing of wanting and liking in humans in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Reducing opioid receptor activation with naltrexone selectively reduced wanting of rewards, which on a neural level was reflected by stronger coupling between dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the striatum under naltrexone compared with placebo. In contrast, reducing dopaminergic neurotransmission with amisulpride revealed no robust effects on behavior or neural activity. Our findings thus provide insights into how opioid receptors mediate neural connectivity related to specifically motivational, not hedonic, aspects of rewards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere71077
StatePublished - Nov 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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