Reward-Related Brain Activity Prospectively Predicts Increases in Alcohol Use in Adolescents

Johnna R. Swartz, David G. Weissman, Emilio Ferrer, Sarah J. Beard, Catherine Fassbender, Richard W. Robins, Paul D. Hastings, Amanda E. Guyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Altered activity within reward-related neural regions, including the ventral striatum (VS) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), is associated with concurrent problematic substance use. The aims of the present study were (a) to identify patterns of reward-related neural activity that prospectively predicted changes in alcohol use 2 years after magnetic resonance imaging in a sample of adolescents, and (b) to examine whether these patterns differed by sex. We also tested whether depression symptoms or impulsivity mediated associations between neural activity and future alcohol use. Method: Participants were 262 adolescents (129 male and 133 female) of Mexican origin who completed the Monetary Incentive Delay task during a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan at age 16. Participants reported on their alcohol use at ages 16 and 18. Results: Results indicated that different patterns of reward-related neural activity predicted future increases in alcohol use for male and female adolescents. In boys, higher VS activity during reward anticipation and average ventral mPFC activity during reward feedback predicted increases in alcohol use from age 16 to 18 years; in girls, higher dorsal mPFC activity and blunted VS activity during reward anticipation predicted increases in alcohol use from age 16 to 18 years. Depression symptoms or impulsivity did not mediate these associations. Conclusion: The results suggest that different pathways of risk may lead to problematic alcohol use for adolescent boys and girls. These sex differences in neural risk pathways have important implications for prevention and intervention approaches targeting Mexican-origin youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-400
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume59
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2020

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • alcohol
  • fMRI
  • reward
  • sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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