Delay discounting in at-risk preadolescents: Brain mechanisms and behavior
thesisposted on 2022-01-07, 20:57 authored by Tarah J Butcher
It is well documented that adolescent substance use is associated with deficits in brain function and behavior. However, possible deficits that predate substance use initiation remain poorly characterized in preadolescents at-risk for developing substance use disorder (SUD). To characterize potential brain and behavioral differences that predate substance use, substance naïve preadolescents, ages 11–12, were recruited into three groups to complete functional magnetic resonance imaging delay discounting: (1) High-risk youth (n=35) with a family history of SUD and externalizing psychiatric disorders, (2) psychiatric controls (n=35) with no family history of SUD, but equivalent externalizing psychiatric disorders as high-risk youth, and (3) healthy controls (n=29) with no family history of SUD and minimal psychopathology. While no behavioral differences between groups were identified, there were group differences in posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) function during decision making. Specifically, the high-risk group showed stronger deactivation of the PCC than healthy controls. These results suggest that high-risk preadolescents may need to suppress activity of key nodes of the default mode network (a task negative network) to a greater extent to properly allocate attention to the task.