Neurocognitive Factors in Substance Use Treatment Response: The Ways of Rewarding Abstinence Project (WRAP)

  • End date
    Aug 31, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    VA Office of Research and Development
Updated on 20 February 2022


The proposed work will investigate changes in brain signaling and cognitive functioning that support recovery from addiction, as well as use of pretreatment neurocognitive functioning to inform substance use treatment planning. Substance use disorders are prevalent amongst Veterans. Cocaine addiction, in particular, has been shown to complicate treatment of other high priority behavioral health problems in the Veteran population (e.g., PTSD, opioid addiction). While there are currently no approved medications to support recovery from cocaine addiction, research indicates that Contingency Management (CM) - a behavioral intervention for cocaine users - can be effective. However, individual responses are variable and long-term benefits are limited. This CDA will test a new model of how CM works by examining brain-based predictors and indicators of treatment response. Results will have immediate implications for measurement-based implementation of existing CM variants within the VA, supporting access to the version of CM that is best aligned with each Veteran's needs.


Electrophysiological methods, including event-related potential and functional connectivity approaches, have potential to clarify mechanisms of substance use treatment response and characterize individual differences therein. Veterans are disproportionately affected by disorders of addiction, of which cocaine use disorder (CUD) is particularly problematic due to high relapse rates and the absence of approved pharmacotherapy options. Behavioral interventions for CUD have therefore become an important focus and Contingency Management (CM) has emerged as the best-supported approach. CM involves reinforcing cocaine abstinence (established through objective testing) with reliable, short-term reward, such as chances to win prizes (i.e., Prize-Based CM or PBCM). Given robust empirical support, nationwide dissemination of PBCM has been supported by a VHA initiative since 2011. However, PBCM response rates are variable and long-term benefits are limited - problems magnified by the cost of implementation with respect to staffing and prizes. Measurement-based approaches to PBCM implementation have promise to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of CM programming but have not yet been investigated within the VA or considered in relation to promising neuromarkers. Importantly, two versions of PBCM are already utilized at VA sites and may differentially benefit individuals with distinct neurocognitive profiles. Specifically, VA PBCM programs employ either abstract (voucher prize) or concrete (tangible prize) incentives, the latter of which may more effectively incentivize abstinence in Veterans with poor future-oriented thinking and planning ability. While selection between existing PBCM variants currently reflects practical considerations only, pretreatment neurocognitive functioning could meaningfully and realistically inform clinical decision-making in this regard.

This project aims to advance measurement-based implementation of CM by testing a novel neurocognitive model with immediate implications for the use of abstract versus concrete PBCM incentives within the VA. Specifically, the future-minded decision-making (FMDM) model posits that CM scaffolds future-oriented goal representation and self-control to support abstinence during in the moment use-related decision-making. For individuals with greater FMDM impairment, concrete, readily-accessible incentives may be more effective than abstract voucher-based rewards (which require future-oriented thinking and planning to acquire value). To test this model, neurocognitive substrates of FMDM will be examined as predictors of differential treatment response in voucher (VoucherPBCM) versus tangible prize (TangiblePBCM) versions of PBCM. Treatment-related change in neural and cognitive-behavioral correlates of FMDM will also be evaluated in PBCM relative to treatment-as-usual (TAU) care. Veterans with CUD will be allocated to VoucherPBCM, TangiblePBCM, or TAU conditions and followed for a 12-week treatment interval. Pre- and post-treatment electroencephalography (EEG) and cognitive-behavioral assessments will be used to measure FMDM-related constructs (working memory, self-control, future-oriented decision-making, future reward representation) and related neuromarkers. These measures will be investigated as predictors of differential treatment response in VoucherPBCM versus TangiblePBCM, as well as maintenance of gains during a post-treatment follow-up period. Change in FMDM-related neural and cognitive measures over the course of treatment will also be evaluated for evidence of neuroadaptation (e.g., changes in functional connectivity) and enhancement of FMDM function through PBCM. Taken together, results of the current research project will represent a first step toward precision implementation of CM within the VA.

Condition Cocaine Use Disorder
Treatment Prize-Based Contingency Management, Treatment As Usual Outpatient Substance Use Treatment
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03799341
SponsorVA Office of Research and Development
Last Modified on20 February 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Military Veterans
DSM-5 Criteria for Cocaine Use Disorder (Mild, Moderate, or Severe)
Cocaine Use Within Past 60 Days
Stated Goal of Cocaine Abstinence or Reduced Cocaine Use
Normal or Corrected-to-Normal Vision
Average or Corrected Hearing

Exclusion Criteria

History of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury, Seizure Disorder, or other Neurological Illness
Severe or Unstable Medical or Psychiatric Condition
Pregnant or Lactating Women
Moderate-to-Severe Neurocognitive Impairment per Medical Record or SLUMS < 21
In Ongoing Residential Treatment or Imminently Expected to Enter Residential Treatment During the Study Interval at Time of Screening
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer  to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact


Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note