Heavy drinking in adolescents is associated with change in brainstem microstructure and reward sensitivity.
Addiction Biology. 2019-07-21; 25(3):
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Publisher: The cortical-cerebellar circuit is vulnerable to heavy drinking (HD)
in adults. We hypothesized early microstructural modifications of the
pons/midbrain region, containing core structures of the reward system, in HD
adolescents. Thirty-two otherwise symptom-free HDs at age 14 (HD14) and 24
abstainers becoming HDs at age 16 (HD16) were identified in the community with
the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and compared with
abstainers. The monetary incentive delay (MID) task assessed reward-sensitive
performance. Voxelwise statistics of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) values in the
thalamo-ponto-mesencephalic region were obtained using tract-based spatial
statistics. Projections between the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the nucleus
accumbens (NAcc) were identified by probabilistic tractography. Lower fraction of
anisotropy and higher radial diffusivity (RD) values were detected in the upper
dorsal pons of HD14 adolescents, and a trend for higher RD in HD16, compared with
abstainers. When expecting reward, HD14 had higher MID task success scores than
abstainers, and success scores were higher with a lower number of tracts in all
adolescents. In symptom-free community adolescents, a region of lower white
matter (WM) integrity in the pons at age 14 was associated with current HD and
predicted HD at age 16. HD was related to reward sensitivity.
© 2019 Society for the Study of Addiction.