Brain maturation may be arrested in chronic cocaine addicts

George Bartzokis, Mace Beckson, Po H. Lu, Nancy Edwards, Peter Bridge, Jim Mintz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Background: Animal and human newborn studies suggest that exposure to cocaine in utero delays glial maturation and white matter myelination. Postmortem data show that in the frontal and temporal lobes, white matter myelination continues into middle age. Recent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data have confirmed continued white matter volume increase in these regions, reaching a maximum at age 47. Methods: Thirty-seven male cocaine dependent (CD) and 52 normal control subjects between ages 19 and 47 were evaluated with MRI. Coronal images focused on the frontal and temporal lobes were acquired using pulse sequences that maximized gray/white matter contrast. Results: Highly significant positive correlations between white matter volume and age were observed in both the frontal and temporal lobes of the control group (r = .52, p = .0001 and r = .54, p = .0001, respectively); however, CD subjects did not demonstrate any age-related increase in white matter volume of the frontal (r = -.001; p = .99) and temporal (r = -.07; p = .67) lobes in this age range. Conclusions: The age-related expansion in white matter volume occurring in normal control subjects was absent in CD subjects. The findings suggest that in adults, cocaine dependence may arrest normal white matter maturation in the frontal and temporal lobes of addicts who continue using cocaine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-611
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction
  • Aging
  • Brain
  • Cocaine
  • Frontal lobe
  • Gray matter
  • Maturation
  • Myelin
  • Temporal lobe
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Brain maturation may be arrested in chronic cocaine addicts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this