CoActions Lab

Cognition and Actions Lab

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Addiction to a substance or to an activity is a real matter of public health. While the etiology of this disorder is complex, contemporary theories of addiction are now highlighting the key role of impulsivity. Indeed, addicted people typically have a lack of inhibitory control, especially when they are confronted to drug/activity-related stimuli. Yet, this deficient inhibition has been classically understood as resulting from a pure cognitive deficit due to abnormal prefrontal functioning, while little attention has been given to the role of more primary areas, such as the motor cortex.

In our lab, we are using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate the hypothesis that the state of addiction is, at least in part, explained by a deficit in neurophysiological inhibitory mechanisms shaping the activity of the motor output system during action selection and action initiation.

In particular, we are assessing motor inhibitory mechanisms in alcohol-dependent patients in a neutral context and in the presence of alcohol-related cues, as well as the relationship between this inhibition and brain damage induced by chronic alcohol consumption, such as measured with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In addition, we aim at evaluating the impact of a training program on motor abilities in these patients, and whether such approach may decrease the risk of relapse. Finally, we are working with pathological gamblers to determine whether motor inhibitory mechanisms are also altered in a behavioral, substance-free, addiction.

Our hope is that such work will help elucidate the mechanisms associated with the development and maintenance of addiction. Moreover, it could lead to the development of novel treatment approaches to supplement classical relapse prevention therapies.

People involved:

Related publications:

  1. Quoilin C, de Timary P, Duque J. Impaired inhibitory control in alcohol-dependence: relationship with brain damage and relapse. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2017; 41: 84A
  2. Quoilin C, Duque J. Deficient motor inhibitory mechanisms in alcohol-dependence: a TMS study. Alcohol Alcohol. 2015; 50: i22.


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  • Hot line: +32 2 764 54 29                            Twitter Bird@DuqueLab