, Volume 235, Issue 11, pp 3273–3288 | Cite as

Acute effects of methadone on EEG power spectrum and event-related potentials among heroin dependents

  • Farid MotlaghEmail author
  • Fatimah Ibrahim
  • Rusdi Rashid
  • Niusha Shafiabady
  • Tahereh Seghatoleslam
  • Hussain Habil
Original Investigation


Methadone as the most prevalent opioid substitution medication has been shown to influence the neurophysiological functions among heroin addicts. However, there is no firm conclusion on acute neuroelectrophysiological changes among methadone-treated subjects as well as the effectiveness of methadone in restoring brain electrical abnormalities among heroin addicts. This study aims to investigate the acute and short-term effects of methadone administration on the brain’s electrophysiological properties before and after daily methadone intake over 10 weeks of treatment among heroin addicts. EEG spectral analysis and single-trial event-related potential (ERP) measurements were used to investigate possible alterations in the brain’s electrical activities, as well as the cognitive attributes associated with MMN and P3. The results confirmed abnormal brain activities predominantly in the beta band and diminished information processing ability including lower amplitude and prolonged latency of cognitive responses among heroin addicts compared to healthy controls. In addition, the alteration of EEG activities in the frontal and central regions was found to be associated with the withdrawal symptoms of drug users. Certain brain regions were found to be influenced significantly by methadone intake; acute effects of methadone induction appeared to be associative to its dosage. The findings suggest that methadone administration affects cognitive performance and activates the cortical neuronal networks, resulting in cognitive responses enhancement which may be influential in reorganizing cognitive dysfunctions among heroin addicts. This study also supports the notion that the brain’s oscillation powers and ERPs can be utilized as neurophysiological indices for assessing the addiction treatment traits.


Neuro-electrophysiology Spatial-spectral analysis Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) Cognitive dysfunction 



We would like to acknowledge and thank the University of Malaya and Ministry of Higher Education for providing High Impact Research Grant, account codes E000007-20001 to fund this project. This research was also supported by the Special Prime Minister’s project (Project No. 66-02-03-0061/oracle 8150061).

Author contributions

All authors had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Study concept and design: FM, FI, RR, and HH. Acquisition of data: FM, RR. Analysis and interpretation of data: FEM and FI. Drafting of the manuscript: FEM, FI, TS. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: NS, TS. Obtained funding: HH. Study supervision: FI, HH.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farid Motlagh
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Fatimah Ibrahim
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rusdi Rashid
    • 3
  • Niusha Shafiabady
    • 4
  • Tahereh Seghatoleslam
    • 3
  • Hussain Habil
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Centre for Innovation in Medical Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  3. 3.Centre of Addiction SciencesUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  4. 4.International Medical UniversityKuala LumpurMalaysia
  5. 5.The head of psychiatry departmentMahsa UniversityKuala LumpurMalaysia

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