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For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Taok2 Controls Behavioral Response to Ethanol in Mice

Despite recent advances in the understanding of ethanol's biological action, many of the molecular targets of ethanol and mechanisms behind ethanol's effect on behavior remain poorly understood.

In an effort to identify novel genes, the products of which regulate behavioral responses to ethanol, we recently identified a mutation in the dtao gene that confers resistance to the locomotor stimulating effect of ethanol in Drosophila. dtao encodes a member of the Ste20 family of serine/threonine kinases implicated in MAP kinase signaling pathways.

In the present
study, we report that conditional ablation of the mouse dtao homolog, Taok2, constitutively and specifically in the nervous system, results in strain-specific and overlapping alterations in ethanol-dependent behaviors.

These data suggest a functional conservation of dtao and Taok2 in mediating ethanol's biological action and identify Taok2 as a putative candidate gene for ethanol use disorders in humans.

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Morphological Evidence of an Altered Process of Synaptic Transcytosis in Adult Rats Exposed to Ethanol

The effects of ethanol exposure on synaptic structure were investigated in the nucleus of solitary tract (NST) in rats, using the horse-radish peroxidase (HRP) method.

ight-week-old experimental rats were allowed free access to a liquid diet containing ethanol for 3 weeks, while controls were given an isocaloric diet. Some of the control and experimental animals were given an injection of wheat germ agglutinin conjugated with HRP (WGA-HRP) into the vagus nerve toward the end of the treatment period. After the treatment, the neuropil region of the NST was examined under an electron microscope.

We observed that a few terminals were characterized by deep indentation of axodendritic membranes into the post-synaptic neurons. This appeared to be similar to that commonly seen in exocrine glands. Interestingly, the indented portion often contained various sizes of vacuoles and flattened cisternae. HRP-reaction product (RP) transported to terminals was recognized easily as an electron-dense lysosomal substance when lead citrate staining was omitted. Terminals containing HRP-RP also revealed quite a similar structure with indentation of axodendritic membranes as described earlier. The results are considered to confirm that terminals forming ‘apocrine-like structures’ observed in the ethanol-fed animals with no injection of WGA-HRP originate from afferent fibers of the vagus nerve.

The present study suggests the possibility that the alteration of the synaptic structure induced by ethanol exposure can lead to the neuronal transcytosis of materials including proteins which is different from the normal vesicular exocytosis involved in chemical synaptic transmission.

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Effect of Red Wine Consumption on Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress

To evaluate the effect of acute and chronic consumption of red wine or de-alcoholized red wine with a similar antioxidant capacity on plasma total antioxidant capacity (TEAC), nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activity and F2-isoprostanes (8-iso-PGF) in healthy men.

Nineteen healthy men with an increased waist circumference (≥94 cm) and a body mass index above 25 kg/m2 participated in a randomized, controlled crossover design trial. They daily consumed 450 ml of red wine (four drinks; 41.4 g alcohol) or 450 ml of de-alcoholized red wine during dinner for 4 weeks each. On the last day of each treatment period, blood was collected before and 1 h after a standardized dinner with red wine or de-alcoholized red wine and also 24-h urine was collected.

Absolute TEAC levels were higher 1 h after dinner with red wine compared with dinner with de-alcoholized red wine (1.3 versus 1.1 mmol Trolox equivalents/l; P = 0.03). Consumption of dinner together with de-alcoholized red wine acutely stimulated NF-κB activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (0.4–0.7 HeLa equivalents/2.5 μg protein; P = 0.006), whereas this increase was completely suppressed when the dinner was combined with red wine. A chronic increase in urinary 8-iso-PGF after 4 weeks of red wine consumption compared with de-alcoholized red wine consumption (157 pg/mg creatinine and 141 pg/mg creatinine, respectively, P = 0.006) was also observed.

Consumption of a moderate dose of red wine can acutely increase plasma TEAC and suppress NF-κB activation induced by a meal. Controversially, 4 weeks of red wine consumption compared with de-alcoholized red wine consumption increases the oxidative lipid damage marker 8-iso-PGF.

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Advanced Gestational Age Increases Serum Carbohydrate-Deficient Transferrin Levels in Abstinent Pregnant Women

Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (%CDT) is a well-established and highly specific biomarker for sustained heavy consumption of alcohol. However, in pregnant women, the specificity of this biomarker might be affected by advanced gestational age, even after accounting for increased transferrin concentrations in pregnancy. The goal of this prospective study was to assess the variability in %CDT during pregnancy among alcohol-abstaining patients.

Patients were recruited during one of the first prenatal care visits and followed-up to term. Abstinence was confirmed by maternal self-report and by alcohol biomarkers. Biomarkers assessed in the mother included serum gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase, urine ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate, and whole blood phosphatidylethanol (PEth). In addition, PEth was measured in a dry blood spot card obtained from a newborn. For %CDT analysis, serum samples were collected at baseline and at term and analyzed by an internationally validated high-performance liquid chromatography and spectrophotometric detection method.

At recruitment (mean gestational age 2 2.6 ± 7.3 weeks), the mean %CDT concentration was 1.49 ± 0.30%, while at term, it increased to 1.67 ± 0.28% (P = 0.001). Using a conventional cutoff concentration %CDT >1.7%, 22.9 and 45.7% of the sample would be classified as ‘positive’ for this biomarker at recruitment and at term, respectively (P = 0.011 ).

These results suggest that a conventional cutoff of 1.7% might be too low for pregnant women and would generate false-positive results. We propose that %CDT >2.0% be used as a cutoff concentration indicative of alcohol exposure in pregnant women. The sensitivity of %CDT at this cutoff for heavy drinking during pregnancy needs to be assessed further.

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Cardiovascular Responses and Differential Changes in Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases Following Repeated Episodes of Binge Drinking

Excessive alcohol use in the form of binge drinking is associated with many adverse medical outcomes. Using an animal model, the primary objective of this study was to determine the effects of repeated episodes of binge drinking on myocardial structure, blood pressure (BP) and activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). The effects of carvedilol, a beta-adrenergic blocker, were also examined in this animal model of binge drinking.

Rats were randomized into three groups: control, binge and binge + carvedilol (20 mg/kg). Animals received intragastric administration of 5 g ethanol/kg in the morning × 4 days (Monday–Thursday) followed by no ethanol on Friday–Sunday. Animals were maintained on the protocol for 5 weeks. BP was measured using radiotelemetry methods. Animals underwent echocardiography at baseline, 2.5 and 5 weeks. Myocardial MAPKs were analyzed at 5 weeks using western blot techniques.

Over the course of 5 weeks, binge drinking was associated with significant transient increases in BP that were greater at 4 and 5 weeks compared with earlier time points. Carvedilol treatment significantly attenuated the binge-induced transient increases in BP at 4 and 5 weeks. No significant changes were found in echocardiographic parameters at any time period; however, binge drinking was associated with increased phosphorylation of p38 MAPK, which was blocked by carvedilol treatment.

Repeated episodes of binge drinking result in progressive and transient increases in BP, no change in myocardial structure and differential regulation of MAPK activation.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

'Part of the Picture': binge drinking over twice as common amongst lesbian, gay and bisexual people

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation have released the Part of the Picture 2009-2011 report exploring substance use amongst lesbian, gay and bisexual people in England. The report states that binge drinking is more than twice as common amongst lesbian, gay and bisexual people when compared with the wider population. > > > > Read More

Experimental Test of Social Norms Theory in a Real-World Drinking Environment

Social norms theory articulates that behavior is influenced by perceptions of behavioral norms. Social norms interventions attempt to modify perceptions of what behavior is normative as a means of influencing actual behavior. Social norms interventions have been widely used on college campuses to reduce the level of student drinking. The effectiveness of these interventions has been mixed. A social norms program might fail because the intervention operations failed to sufficiently implement social norms theory in the real world or because of the theory's limitations. Our research involves an experimental examination of the impact of social norms information on actual drinking behavior within a real-world drinking environment.

Nearly 3,000 participants were interviewed and randomly assigned to one of nine social norms feedback conditions before heading to bars and nightclubs in Tijuana, Mexico. These same participants were resampled, interviewed again, and subjected to breath alcohol analysis when they returned to the United States.

We found that persons whose perceptions of normative drinking changed (became more accurate) during their visit to Tijuana consumed relatively less alcohol. We also found that providing participants with social norms feedback produced more accurate perceived norms. However, the effect sizes were too small to produce statistically significant results showing that social norms feedback could effectively reduce drinking via changing normative perceptions.

Our research demonstrated that providing social norms feedback changed perceived drinking norms and that changes in perceived norms were correlated with reduced drinking. Effect sizes, however, were quite small.

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Assessing the Protective Value of Protective Behavioral Strategies

Many students report using strategies believed to reduce risk of harm from consumption of alcohol. The effectiveness of these strategies was tested in this study.

A sample of 442
undergraduate students (50.5% female) was asked to report how many alcoholic drinks they consumed on a recent drinking occasion, which protective strategies were used, and which harms were experienced.

Although reported use of more protective strategies was associated with less consumption, it appeared to be unrelated to harmful consequences. More detailed analyses suggested that only a small subset of strategies (primarily those concerning the manner of drinking) was consistently associated with reduced consumption and/or harms.

The findings cast doubt on the efficacy of protective strategies or at least the validity of the self-report instruments used to assess these strategies

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Innovative Recruitment Using Online Networks: Lessons Learned From an Online Study of Alcohol and Other Drug Use Utilizing a Web-Based, Respondent-Dri

We used a web version of Respondent-Driven Sampling (webRDS) to recruit a sample of young adults (ages 18–24) and examined whether this strategy would result in alcohol and other drug (AOD) prevalence estimates comparable to national estimates (National Survey on Drug Use and Health [NSDUH]).

We recruited 22 initial participants (seeds) via Facebook to complete a web survey examining AOD risk correlates. Sequential, incentivized recruitment continued until our desired sample size was achieved. After correcting for webRDS clustering effects, we contrasted our AOD prevalence estimates (past 30 days) to NSDUH estimates by comparing the 95% confidence intervals of prevalence estimates.

We found comparable AOD prevalence estimates between our sample and NSDUH for the past 30 days for alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA), and hallucinogens. C
igarette use was lower than NSDUH estimates

WebRDS may be a suitable strategy to recruit young adults online. We discuss the unique strengths and challenges that may be encountered by public health researchers using webRDS methods.

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Self-Administered Web-Based Timeline Followback Procedure for Drinking and Smoking Behaviors in Young Adults

The goal of the current investigation was to test the psychometric properties of a self-administered web-based version of the Timeline Followback (TLFB), a retrospective calendar method of assessing daily behaviors.

The study used a within-subjects, counterbalanced design to compare estimates of daily drinking and smoking behaviors obtained by a self-administered web-based version of the TLFB with estimates obtained by a telephone interview version. The sample consisted of 120 social drinker–smoker young adults (65 men).

Correlations between the two modalities for total number of drinks, total drinking days, and heavy drinking days in a 4-week period ranged from .83 to .93; those for total cigarettes, total smoking days, and heavy smoking days ranged from .90 to .95. The correlation between the two modalities for estimates of the number of co-use days was .90. Drinking and smoking estimates from the online TLFB also correlated significantly with scores from the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test and Fagerstrm Test of Nicotine Dependence.

Overall, the results demonstrated strong support for the use of a self-administered web-based TLFB assessment tool to capture concurrent reports of social drinking and smoking behaviors in young adults. The web-based TLFB may be particularly well suited for assessment in clinical trials, longitudinal designs, and epidemiological studies.

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Sex Differences in Mediating and Moderating Processes Linking Economic Stressors, Psychological Distress, and Drinking

Given the recent downturn in the U.S. economy, we considered in this study the processes linking economic stressors, psychological distress, and two alcohol-related outcomes (past-month drinking and problematic drinking).

Data were drawn from a mail survey of a national sample of 663 respondents. Structural equation modeling was used to assess whether psychological distress mediates the associations between economic stressors and the alcohol-related outcomes considered and whether these associations varied by gender.

Controlling for correlations among the outcomes and the effects of the sociodemographic control variables, psychological distress was found to partly explain the association between economic stressors and problematic drinking. The mediating effects on problematic drinking were significantly greater for men than women.

The findings demonstrate the utility of considering interrelationships among alcohol-related outcomes and, in this context, reveal the circumstances in which gender matters most for understanding the associations among economy-related stressors, psychological distress, and drinking

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How Do Impulsivity and Education Relate to Smoking Initiation and Cessation Among Young Adults?

This study examined the predictive value of impulsivity for starting and quitting smoking and whether education had an independent effect on smoking careers or moderated the impulsivity–smoking association.

Two waves of the cohort study Young in Norway were used in the present study (third wave: 1999, age range: 19–32 years; fourth wave: 2005, age range: 25–38 years). Postal questionnaires were used for data collection. Subjects participating in 1999 and 2005 were eligible (N = 2,562). Stable smokers (daily smokers in 1999 and 2005) and nonsmokers (never smokers in 1999 and 2005), quitters (daily smokers in 1999, nonsmokers in 2005), and starters (never smokers in 1999, daily smokers in 2005) constituted the analytical sample (1,776 men and women). The associations between self-reported impulsivity and education and smoking were investigated using logistic regression analyses.

The odds ratio (OR) for a 1-unit increase in the impulsivity score was 2.16 (95% CI [1.09, 4.30]) for smoking initiation, whereas the OR [95% CI] for low compared with high education was 2.55 (95% CI [1.36, 4.77]). Education, but not impulsivity, emerged as a significant determinant for smoking cessation compared with continued smoking. The OR for quitting smoking by low compared with high education was 0.61 (95% CI [0.42, 0.90]). Mutual adjustment for education and impulsivity did not change any of the results. The interaction term between impulsivity and education was not significantly related to smoking.

Because impulsivity emerged as important for smoking initiation regardless of educational level, it should be considered when planning and implementing smoking prevention programs for both low and high socioeconomic groups

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News Release - Brain activity may predict teens’ heavy drinking

Heavy drinking is known to affect teenagers’ developing brains, but certain patterns of brain activity may also help predict which kids are at risk of becoming problem drinkers, according to a study in the September issue of the Journal of
Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Using special MRI scans, researchers looked at 40 12- to 16-year-olds who had not started drinking yet, then followed them for about 3 years and scanned them again. Half of the teens started to drink alcohol fairly heavily during this interval. The investigators found that kids who had initially showed less activation in certain brain
areas were at greater risk for becoming heavy drinkers in the next three years.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Examining Risk and Protective Factors for Alcohol Use in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth: A Longitudinal Multilevel Analysis

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are at increased risk for alcohol misuse, but little is known about the psychosocial and demographic factors that are associated with these differences over time. The purpose of this study was to investigate change in alcohol use across development. We aimed to describe group/demographic differences in alcohol use, the effects of psychosocial variables on drinking within persons (i.e., psychological distress, sexual orientation–based victimization, and perceived family support), and the interactions between demographic differences and longitudinal psychosocial variables in predicting rates of alcohol use.

The current study used data from the longest running longitudinal study of LGBT youth. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine both demographic differences and psychosocial predictors of alcohol use in an ethnically diverse sample of 246 LGBT youth (ages 16–20 years at baseline) across five time points over 2.5 years.

Drinking increased significantly over time in a linear fashion, although it tended to increase more rapidly among male LGBT youth compared with females. Analyses of group differences revealed lower average rates of drinking for African American and female LGBT youth, and there were no differences between bisexual youth and gay/lesbian youth. Psychological distress and sexual orientation–based victimization were associated with increased alcohol use at each wave of data collection for female LGBT youth only. Perceived family support at each wave was negatively associated with alcohol use for all LGBT youth.

Findings indicate that there is significant heterogeneity in the etiological pathways that lead to alcohol use in LGBT youth and that correlates of drinking are similar to those found in general populations. These crucial findings indicate that existing
alcohol interventions also may be effective for LGBT youth and open up a wider array of prevention and treatment options for this at-risk population.

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Socioeconomic Status and Substance Use Among Young Adults: A Comparison Across Constructs and Drugs

Little consensus exists regarding the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and substance use. This study examined the associations of three indicators of family SES during childhood—income, wealth, and parental education—with smoking, alcohol use, and marijuana use during young adulthood.

Data were obtained from the national Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a survey of U.S. families that incorporates data from parents and their children. In 2005 and 2007, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics was supplemented with two waves of Transition into Adulthood data drawn from a national sample of young adults, 18–23 years old. Data from the young adults (N = 1,203; 66.1% White; 51.5% female) on their current use of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana were used as outcome variables in logistic regressions. Socioeconomic background was calculated from parental reports of education, wealth, and income during the respondent's childhood (birth through age 17 years).

Smoking in young adulthood was associated with lower childhood family SES, although the association was explained by demographic and social role covariates. Alcohol use and marijuana use in young adulthood were associated with higher childhood family SES, even after controlling for covariates.

Findings based on three indicators of family background SES—income, wealth, and parental education—converged in describing unique patterns for smoking and for alcohol and marijuana use among young adults, although functional relationships across SES measures varied. Young adults with the highest family background SES were most prone to alcohol and marijuana use.

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Acute Stress and Event-Related Potential Correlates of Attention to Alcohol Images in Social Drinkers

The use of alcohol to cope with stress is a major health concern, yet the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the effects of stress on alcohol-related cognition are not well understood. This study examined changes in event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by alcohol-related images before and after a stressor compared with a control condition.

Social drinkers (N = 75; 38 male) were assigned to one of two target subgroups for completion of an oddball task: (a) to detect alcohol targets while ignoring household object distracters and frequently presented nonsense shapes or (b) to detect object targets while ignoring alcohol distracters and nonsense shapes. ERPs were recorded before and after one of two conditions: a stressor or a nonstressful control task.

N200 latency and amplitude changes were modulated by stress. Similarly, stress reduced P300 latencies beyond practice effects. For P300 amplitude, the target subgroup interacted with the condition such that the standard "oddball" effect was observed in the control condition but was absent in the stress condition, suggesting that stress may have interfered with the participants' cognitive efficiency, or the ability to ignore task-irrelevant stimuli.

These findings suggest that stress influences the early stages of alcohol-related processing, an effect that may be particularly apparent in ERP latencies. These findings have implications for understanding the neural mechanisms involved with stress and alcohol cue reactivity.

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Brain Response to Working Memory Over Three Years of Adolescence: Influence of Initiating Heavy Drinking

Many adolescents engage in heavy alcohol use. The aim of this study was to disentangle whether brain abnormalities seen in adolescent heavy drinkers are a consequence of heavy drinking, a preexisting risk factor for initiation of alcohol use, or both.

Study 1 used cross-sectional functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) visual working-memory (VWM) data from 15- to 19-year-olds (20 heavy drinkers, 20 controls) to identify brain regions affected by heavy adolescent alcohol use. Study 2 used longitudinal fMRI VWM data from 12- to 16-year-olds imaged before the onset of drinking and imaged again on the same scanner approximately 3 years later. Those who had transitioned into heavy drinking (n = 20) were matched to continuous nondrinkers (n = 20) on baseline alcohol risk and developmental factors (N = 40; 80 scans).

Study 1 found that heavy drinkers exhibited more frontal and parietal but less occipital activation than controls, defining the regions of interest for Study 2. In Study 2, adolescents who later transitioned into heavy drinking showed less fMRI response contrast at baseline than continuous nondrinkers, which increased after the onset of heavy drinking, in frontal (1,431 μL, p = .003; η-squared = .19) and parietal (810 μL, p = .005; η-squared = .23) regions, as in Study 1. Lower baseline activation in the frontal and parietal regions predicted subsequent substance use, more so than commonly observed predictors of youth drinking (p < .05).

Adolescents who initiated heavy drinking showed different brain activation before the onset of drinking, then less efficient information processing after high-dose alcohol use started. This suggests neural response patterns that could be risk factors for future substance use and also supports prior neuropsychological reports indicating that initiating heavy episodic drinking in adolescence may be followed by subtle alterations in brain functioning.

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Investigating the Association Between Childhood Sexual Abuse and Alcohol Use Disorders in Women: Does It Matter How We Ask About Sexual Abuse?

The purpose of this
study was to determine whether the type of questions used to assess childhood sexual abuse (CSA) introduces systematic bias into estimations of the magnitude of the association between CSA and alcohol use disorders (AUDs).

The Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism was administered by telephone to 3,787 female twins ages 18–29 years (14.6% African American, 85.4% White). Interviews included questions regarding sexual abuse experiences described in behavioral terms and a standard trauma checklist (in a separate section) with the items "rape" and "sexual molestation," with definitions provided in respondent booklets. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, diagnoses of alcohol abuse and dependence, parental history of alcohol-related problems, and psychiatric conditions associated with AUDs were also assessed.

The majority of women who endorsed one question type also endorsed the other type. Rates of psychiatric risk factors for AUDs did not vary by pattern of CSA question endorsement. Separate Cox proportional hazards regression analyses using CSA variables derived from behavioral questions (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.67, 95% CI [1.27, 2.19]) and checklist items (HR = 1.41,95% CI [1.08, 1.84]) each revealed elevated risk for AUDs associated with CSA, and HRs did not differ significantly across models. However, a Cox proportional hazards regression analysis predicting AUD from the pattern of CSA question endorsements revealed a significantly higher risk for AUDs among women who endorsed only behavioral questions (HR = 3.26, 95% CI [1.72, 6.21]) than for all other groups.

Findings underscore the importance of querying CSA in studies of alcohol-related problems and highlight some of the limitations of assessment methods that can be integrated into studies covering a wide range of psychosocial domains.

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Drinking Context and Intimate Partner Violence: Evidence From the California Community Health Study of Couples

Couples in which one or both partners is a heavy or problem drinker are at elevated risk for intimate partner violence (IPV), yet little is known about the extent to which each partner's drinking in different contexts (volume consumed per setting in bars, parties, at home, or in public places) increases the likelihood that partner aggression will occur. This study examined associations between the volume consumed in different settings by each partner and the occurrence and frequency of IPV.

We obtained a geographic sample of married or cohabiting couples residing in 50 medium to large California cities. Cross-sectional survey data were collected via confidential telephone interviews (60% response rate). Logistic and negative binomial regression analyses were based on 1,585 couples who provided information about past-12-month IPV, drinking contexts (number of times attended, proportion of drinking occasions when attended, average number of drinks), frequency of intoxication, and psychosocial and demographic factors. Drinking context–IPV associations for each partner were adjusted for the other partner's volume for that context and other covariates.

Male partner's volume per setting for bars and parks or public places was associated with the occurrence and frequency of male-to-female IPV and female-to-male IPV. Male's volume per setting for quiet evening at home was associated with the occurrence of female-to-male IPV; female partner's volume for this setting was associated with the frequency of male-to-female IPV and female-to-male IPV.

Among couples in the general population, each partner's drinking in certain contexts is an independent risk factor for the occurrence and frequency of partner aggression.

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Direct and Indirect Effects of Impulsivity Traits on Drinking and Driving in Young Adults

Impulsivity is strongly associated with alcohol-related risk-taking behavior, and this association has been found to be mediated by alcohol cognitions. The current study expanded this literature by comparing the relative association of distinct impulsivity traits with a specific risky behavior—drinking and driving. We then tested whether drinking-and-driving expectancies uniquely mediated this relation over and above other cognitions about alcohol and drinking and driving.

College student drivers (n = 816; 53.6% women) completed a paper-and-pencil survey in small groups. Self-report measures assessed alcohol use, impulsivity traits, alcohol expectancies, drinking-and-driving cognitions (i.e., expectancies, attitudes, beliefs), and drinking and driving.

Although all impulsivity traits were correlated with drinking and driving, only urgency uniquely contributed to drinking and driving. Indirect effect tests indicated that drinking-and-driving convenience expectancies partially mediated this association as well as that between (lack of) perseverance and drinking and driving. These results remained significant after controlling for alcohol expectancies and other drinking-and-driving cognitions.

These findings highlight the importance of distinguishing among impulsivity traits to improve theoretical models of the processes by which personality leads to specific alcohol-related consequences. In addition, results extend previous research by providing evidence for the unique importance of expectancies regarding the convenience of drinking and driving over and above more global alcohol expectancies and other drinking-and-driving cognitions.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Announcement of the Fulker Award for a Paper Published in Behavior Genetics, Volume 41, 2011

The Fulker Award was established by the Behavior Genetics Association in memory of David Fulker, a past
President of the Association and Executive Editor of the journal, who died in 1998 (Hewitt 1998). The award is for‘a particularly meritorious paper’ published in the journal during the preceding year. The annual prize is $1000 ‘and a nice bottle of wine’ (given only when the recipient is present at the Association’s annual meeting.)

Volume 41 was another very impressive volume comprising 89 high quality peer reviewed papers. To select the paper for the Fulker award, I solicit nominations from the journal’s Associate Editors and follow their advice closely.

Nominated papers included Ceclia Aslund and colleagues’ study of Maltreatment, MAOA, and Delinquency finding sex differences in the direction of a gene-environment interaction in a large Swedish adolescent sample, Hermine Maes and colleagues’ paper on A Twin Association
Study of Nicotine Dependence with Markers in the
CHRNA3 and CHRNA5 Genes, Watanabe et al’s study of the role of a particular gustatory receptor in Drosophila sexual behavior, and Alice Moon-Fanelli’s report on studies of communicative behavior in Coyote-Beagle hybrids, published in the festschrift honoring Benson Ginsberg.

However, this year’s winner was a paper that reported on extensive and meticulous psychometric studies of heritable constructs underlying a general liability to externalizing behaviors, including substance use disorders and antisocial behavior. Based on the decades of data collection on twin, family, and adoption samples at the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research, Brian Hicks and his colleagues—
Benjamin Schalet, Stephen Malone, Bill Iacono,
and Matt McGue—provided a detailed and sophisticated empirical description and behavior genetic analysis of five intercorrelated intermediate level constructs that contribute
to the more general liability. This paper is part of an impressive program of research on these topics being lead by Bill Iacono and Matt McGue. Congratulations to Brian Hicks and his co-authors for their 2011 Fulker Award winning paper: Psychometric and genetic architecture of substance use disorder and behavioral disinhibition measures for gene association studies.

John K. Hewitt

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Predicting Driving After Drinking Over Time Among College Students: The Emerging Role of Injunctive Normative Perceptions

Despite prevention efforts, driving after drinking (DAD) is a prevalent high-risk behavior among
college students and is a leading cause of death and injury. Examination of factors predicting future DAD behavior is necessary to develop efficacious targeted interventions to reduce this behavior among college students. The current study evaluated demographic, social cognitive, and behavioral predictors of DAD using longitudinal data.

Participants were 655 nonabstaining college students (67.2% female; 60.3% White; mean age = 19.3 years) who completed online surveys at two time points 12 months apart.

Results revealed that participants consistently overestimated their peers' approval (injunctive norms) of DAD. In a three-step hierarchical logistic regression model, injunctive norms, age, and past DAD behavior uniquely contributed to the prediction of this behavior 12 months later. Neither sex nor membership in a sorority or fraternity emerged as significant predictors.

The findings provide important new insights into the longitudinal predictors of DAD among college students and highlight the need for DAD interventions, particularly among older students.

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Memory for Emotional Picture Cues During Acute Alcohol Intoxication

Memory affects
behavior by allowing events to be anticipated and goals to be planned based on previous experiences. Emotional memory, in particular, is thought to play a central role in behavior in general and in drinking behavior in particular. Alcohol intoxication has been shown to disrupt intentional, conscious memory, but not unintentional, implicit memory for neutral stimuli; however, its effects on emotional memory are not well understood. This study examined whether alcohol intoxication affected memory for emotionally valenced stimuli by testing explicit recall and implicit repetition priming of emotional picture cues.

Participants were 36 young adults (21–24 years old, 16 women) who received an alcohol, placebo, or no-alcohol beverage. Both cue exposure and memory testing occurred after beverage consumption (i.e., during intoxication for the alcohol group).

Alcohol intoxication impaired explicit recall of all cue types but did not impair implicit repetition priming. Emotionally negative and positive cues were more often recalled compared with neutral cues across all beverage groups, and emotionally negative cues demonstrated more priming than emotionally positive or neutral cues in all beverage groups.

Alcohol intoxication disrupted effortful recall of all cues, although the relative memory advantage of emotionally valenced over-neutral stimuli remained even after drinking. The effects of alcohol on unintentional memory priming were not statistically significant, but the effects of emotionally negative cues were. Further research is needed to better understand alcohol intoxication and emotional valence effects on memory processes during implicit memory tasks and the possibility that negative mood facilitates memory priming of negative emotional stimuli.

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Evaluating Self-Checkout Lanes as a Potential Source of Alcoholic Beverages for Minors

This exploratory study examined the ability of young adults to purchase alcoholic beverages through self-checkout lanes without being asked for age verification. Although the minimum drinking age in all 50 U. S. states is 21 years of age, drinking among underage persons (ages 12–20) remains a serious public health concern. Self-checkout options in off-sale alcoholic beverage outlets (e.g., grocery store chains, liquor stores) may represent a potential source of illicit access to alcohol compared with traditional checkout purchases

A total of 216 stores with self-checkout lanes were randomly selected in five Southern California counties. Pseudo-patrons independently judged to be 23 years of age or younger purchased alcohol in each store.

Overall, 8.8% of all purchase observations resulted in a failure to ask for identification to purchase alcohol.

The growing number of self-checkout options at supermarkets can be a potential source of alcohol for minors; however, the risk they pose is similar to that of traditional checkout purchases. Policies relating to the purchase of alcohol at any store, regardless of checkout type, should be modified so that every purchase of alcohol requires an identification card to be swiped regardless of age.

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Measures of Substance Consumption Among Substance Users, DSM-IV Abusers, and Those With DSM-IV Dependence Disorders in a Nationally Representative Sam

Neither the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised (DSM-III-R), nor the DSM-IV uses measures of substance consumption as part of the diagnostic criteria for
substance use disorders. Therefore, this report examined the extent to which frequency and/or quantity of consumption across a broad spectrum of substances are associated with DSM-IV diagnoses of specific substance use disorders and whether there are informative hierarchical levels of consumption among users, abusers, and those who are substance dependent in the U.S. general population.

The analyses focused on consumption data from respondents of the 2001–2002 National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Disorders. Multinomial logistic regression was used to predict DSM-IV diagnoses of dependence or abuse based on the continuous consumption measures.

Among individuals who used substances, the substances with the greatest liability for dependence were nicotine first and cocaine second. For nearly all substances investigated, users without specific substance use disorders demonstrated lower levels of quantity and frequency of consumption relative to those with DSM-IV abuse and dependence disorders. Dose-response curves for the log odds of abuse and dependence suggested unidimensionality of abuse and dependence for frequency of alcohol drinking; frequency of cannabis use; frequency of opioid use; frequency of hallucinogen use; and, to a lesser extent, frequency of amphetamine use. However, the dose-response curves for the quantity of alcohol consumed demonstrated differential patterns for abuse and dependence such that alcohol dependence has a distinctly greater "quantity of use" relationship than that found among alcohol-abusing individuals.

These results confirm the findings of others concerning the unidimensionality of abuse and dependence diagnoses when consumption variables alone are examined and suggest that consumption measures may be useful metrics gauging severity.

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