Affective circuitry and risk for alcoholism in late adolescence: Differences in frontostriatal responses between vulnerable and resilient children of alcoholic parents

Mary M. Heitzeg, Joel Nigg, Wai Ying Wendy Yau, Jon Kar Zubieta, Robert A. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Children of alcoholics (COAs) are at elevated risk for alcohol use disorders (AUD), yet not all COAs will develop AUD. The 2 primary aims of this study were to identify neural activation mechanisms that may mark protection or vulnerability to AUD in COAs and to map the same activation patterns in relation to risk behavior (externalizing or internalizing behavior). Methods: Twenty-two adolescent COAs were recruited from an ongoing community longitudinal study of alcoholic and matched control families. They were categorized as either vulnerable (n = 11) or resilient (n = 11) based on the level of problem drinking over the course of adolescence. Six other adolescents with no parental history of alcoholism, and no evidence of their own problem drinking were recruited from the same study and labeled as low-risk controls. Valenced words were presented to the participants in a passive viewing task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Activation to negative versus neutral words and positive versus neutral words were compared between groups. Behavior problems were assessed with the Youth Self-Report (YSR). Results: The resilient COA group had more activation of the orbital frontal gyrus (OFG), bilaterally, and left insula/putamen than the control and vulnerable groups, in response to emotional stimuli. In contrast, the vulnerable group had more activation of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and less activation of the ventral striatum and extended amygdala, bilaterally, to emotional stimuli than the control and resilient groups. The vulnerable group had more externalizing behaviors which correlated with increased dorsomedial prefrontal activation and decreased ventral striatal and extended amygdala activation. Conclusions: These results are consistent with dissociable patterns of neural activation underlying risk and resiliency in COAs. We propose that the pattern observed in the resilient COAs represents an active emotional monitoring function, which may be a protective factor in this group. On the other hand, the vulnerable group displayed a pattern consistent with active suppression of affective responses, perhaps resulting in the inability to engage adaptively with emotional stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-426
Number of pages13
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Alcoholics
Alcoholism
Parents
Chemical activation
Alcohols
Amygdala
Prefrontal Cortex
Drinking
Corpus Striatum
Control Groups
Putamen
Risk-Taking
Self Report
Longitudinal Studies
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Monitoring

Keywords

  • Orbitofrontal Cortex
  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Resiliency
  • Ventral Striatum
  • Vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology

Cite this

Affective circuitry and risk for alcoholism in late adolescence : Differences in frontostriatal responses between vulnerable and resilient children of alcoholic parents. / Heitzeg, Mary M.; Nigg, Joel; Yau, Wai Ying Wendy; Zubieta, Jon Kar; Zucker, Robert A.

In: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Vol. 32, No. 3, 03.2008, p. 414-426.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Background: Children of alcoholics (COAs) are at elevated risk for alcohol use disorders (AUD), yet not all COAs will develop AUD. The 2 primary aims of this study were to identify neural activation mechanisms that may mark protection or vulnerability to AUD in COAs and to map the same activation patterns in relation to risk behavior (externalizing or internalizing behavior). Methods: Twenty-two adolescent COAs were recruited from an ongoing community longitudinal study of alcoholic and matched control families. They were categorized as either vulnerable (n = 11) or resilient (n = 11) based on the level of problem drinking over the course of adolescence. Six other adolescents with no parental history of alcoholism, and no evidence of their own problem drinking were recruited from the same study and labeled as low-risk controls. Valenced words were presented to the participants in a passive viewing task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Activation to negative versus neutral words and positive versus neutral words were compared between groups. Behavior problems were assessed with the Youth Self-Report (YSR). Results: The resilient COA group had more activation of the orbital frontal gyrus (OFG), bilaterally, and left insula/putamen than the control and vulnerable groups, in response to emotional stimuli. In contrast, the vulnerable group had more activation of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and less activation of the ventral striatum and extended amygdala, bilaterally, to emotional stimuli than the control and resilient groups. The vulnerable group had more externalizing behaviors which correlated with increased dorsomedial prefrontal activation and decreased ventral striatal and extended amygdala activation. Conclusions: These results are consistent with dissociable patterns of neural activation underlying risk and resiliency in COAs. We propose that the pattern observed in the resilient COAs represents an active emotional monitoring function, which may be a protective factor in this group. On the other hand, the vulnerable group displayed a pattern consistent with active suppression of affective responses, perhaps resulting in the inability to engage adaptively with emotional stimuli.",
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