Binge drinking impacts dorsal striatal response during decision making in adolescents

Scott A. Jones, Anita Cservenka, Bonnie J. Nagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Adolescence is a time of both increased risk taking and increased vulnerability to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol. However, it is unclear whether brain functioning abnormalities in adolescent binge drinkers are a result of alcohol use itself or whether they represent premorbid risk characteristics. The current study addresses this question by using a modified version of the Wheel of Fortune (WOF) task, during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), at both baseline, while all subjects were alcohol-naïve, and revisit, when half of the subjects had emerged into regular binge drinking (n = 13) and half remained alcohol and substance-naïve (n = 13). Region of interest (ROI) analysis revealed that during decision making, there was a significant binge-drinking related reduction in brain activation in the dorsal striatum, an effect associated with degree of recent use. Furthermore, whole-brain analysis revealed a decrease in fronto-parietal brain activation prior to initiation of alcohol use, in adolescents who went on to binge drink. Additionally, there were numerous regions, both cortical and subcortical, in which there was a significant time-related developmental change, across groups. These results demonstrate how abnormalities in decision-making related circuitry might both lead to and perpetuate alcohol drinking behavior. These findings help aid in our ability to disentangle consequences of binge drinking from potential risk markers for future binge drinking, and may help guide future prevention and intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-388
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol
  • Binge
  • Decision making
  • Dorsal striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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