Effects of delaying binge drinking on adolescent brain development : a longitudinal neuroimaging study
Article [Version of Record]
Is part ofBMC Psychiatry ; vol. 16, 445
Background: Onset of alcohol use by 14 relative to 21 years of age strongly predicts elevated risk for severe alcohol use problems, with 27% versus 4% of individuals exhibiting alcohol dependence within 10 years of onset. What remains unclear is whether this early alcohol use (i) is a marker for later problems, reflected as a pre-existing developmental predisposition, (ii) causes global neural atrophy or (iii) specifically disturbs neuro-maturational processes implicated in addiction, such as executive functions or reward processing. Since our group has demonstrated that a novel intervention program targeting personality traits associated with adolescent alcohol use can prevent the uptake of drinking and binge drinking by 40 to 60%, a crucial question is whether prevention of early onset alcohol misuse will protect adolescent neurodevelopment and which domains of neurodevelopment can be protected. Methods: A subsample of 120 youth at high risk for substance misuse and 30 low-risk youth will be recruited from the Co-Venture trial (Montreal, Canada) to take part in this 5-year follow-up neuroimaging study. The Co-Venture trial is a community-based cluster-randomised trial evaluating the effectiveness of school-based personality-targeted interventions on substance use and cognitive outcomes involving approximately 3800 Grade 7 youths. Half of the 120 high-risk participants will have received the preventative intervention program. Cognitive tasks and structural and functional neuroimaging scans will be conducted at baseline, and at 24- and 48-month follow-up. Two functional paradigms will be used: the Stop-Signal Task to measure motor inhibitory control and a modified version of the Monetary Incentive Delay Task to evaluate reward processing. Discussion: The expected results should help identify biological vulnerability factors, and quantify the consequences of early alcohol abuse as well as the benefits of early intervention using brain metrics.