Prospective changes in neural alcohol cue reactivity in at-risk adolescents

Tam T. Nguyen-Louie, Kelly E. Courtney, Lindsay M. Squeglia, Kara Bagot, Sonja Eberson, Robyn Migliorini, Alexis R. Alcaraz, Susan F. Tapert, Carmen Pulido

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Adolescence represents an ideal time for elucidating the etiology of cue reactivity profiles. This study examined the influence of three risk factors consistently associated with heavy adolescent drinking on alcohol cue reactivity. Youth were first assessed while still naïve to alcohol (12–14 years old) and followed after transitioning into alcohol use (17–21 years old). The effects of family history of substance use disorder, sex, and history of early of dating (i.e., before 14 years of age) on BOLD response contrast to alcohol picture cues were examined in a linear mixed model, controlling for age and alcohol use patterns at follow-up. Activation to alcohol picture cues differed as a function of risk factor and time. At baseline, family history positive youth showed greater activation to alcohol cues than family history negative peers in the right middle occipital and anterior cingulate gyri. Youth with a history of early-dating showed greater activation to alcohol cues, compared to non-early daters, in the left anterior cingulate/white matter region. Girls showed greater activation to alcohol than boys at baseline in left middle frontal gyrus. At follow-up, after drinking started, patterns reversed for each risk factor. These results indicate that even prior to initiating alcohol use, adolescents showed differences in activation to alcohol cues based on their family history, dating history, and sex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-941
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol cue reactivity
  • Alcohol use
  • Early dating
  • Family history
  • Gender
  • Neuroimaging


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