Ventral striatal resting-state functional connectivity in adolescents is associated with earlier onset of binge drinking

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Background: Earlier engagement in heavy drinking during adolescence is a risk factor for the development of alcohol use disorders later in life. Longitudinal studies in adolescents have linked brain structure and task-evoked function to future alcohol use; however, less is known about how intrinsic network-level interactions relate to future substance use during this developmental period. Methods: In this prospective longitudinal study, resting-state functional connectivity of the ventral striatum, risky decision making, and sensation seeking were measured in 73 adolescents at baseline. Participants were between the ages of 14 and 15 and had no substantial history of substance use upon study entry. Follow-up interviews were conducted approximately every 3 months to assess the initiation of binge drinking (≥ 5 or ≥ 4 drinks per occasion for males or females, respectively). Results: Adolescents who began binge drinking sooner exhibited greater connectivity of the ventral striatum to the left precuneus, left angular gyrus, and the left superior frontal gyrus. Greater connectivity of the ventral striatum to the right insula/putamen was associated with longer duration to the onset of binge drinking. Resting-state functional connectivity in these regions was not associated with baseline assessments of risky decision making or sensation seeking. Conclusions: Findings provide novel information about potential risk factors for early initiation of heavy alcohol use. Interventions that target relevant resting-state networks may enhance prevention efforts to decrease adolescent substance use by prolonging onset to heavier levels of alcohol consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109010
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol
  • Binge drinking
  • Longitudinal
  • Resting-state functional connectivity
  • Ventral striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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