Due to ongoing development, adolescence may be a period of heightened vulnerability to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol. Binge drinking may alter reward-driven behavior and neurocircuitry, thereby increasing risk for escalating alcohol use. Therefore, we compared reward processing in adolescents with and without a history of recent binge drinking. At their baseline study visit, all participants (age = 14.86 ± 0.88) were free of heavy alcohol use and completed a modified version of the Wheel of Fortune (WOF) functional magnetic resonance imaging task. Following this visit, 17 youth reported binge drinking on ≥3 occasions within a 90 day period and were matched to 17 youth who remained alcohol and substance-naïve. All participants repeated the WOF task during a second visit (age = 16.83 ± 1.22). No significant effects were found in a region of interest analysis of the ventral striatum, but whole-brain analyses showed significant group differences in reward response at the second study visit in the left cerebellum, controlling for baseline visit brain activity (p/α < 0.05), which was negatively correlated with mean number of drinks consumed/drinking day in the last 90 days. These findings suggest that binge drinking during adolescence may alter brain activity during reward processing in a dose-dependent manner.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience